Vietnam needs to soon build a strong and effective legal framework for preventing water pollution as the problem is getting out of hand, experts warned at an international workshop in Hanoi on April 17.

The function drew more than 100 experts from Vietnam, the US and Thailand, alongside representatives from businesses and non-governmental organisations.

Tran Viet Hung, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, said Vietnam is home to some 2,360 rivers and streams that are over 10km long, as well as thousands of lakes. Those bodies of water are the source of life for millions of people, as well as fauna and flora.

However, the water sources are being degraded by over-exploitation and pollution, which is attributable to a deficiency in the management and protection of the water environment.

He added that current regulations are not strict enough to prevent actions contaminating the water.

Director of the Centre for Environment and Community Research Nguyen Ngoc Ly said the most severe pollution can be seen in water bodies near industrial clusters, craft villages and urban areas.

Since there are a wide range of pollution factors and many rivers run from other countries into Vietnam, the control of water pollution is complicated and requires a feasible legal framework, she said.

She suggested priority be given to dealing with pollution in small rivers pending the building of a law on water pollution control.

Research shows that some 9,000 people die of diseases caused by polluted water and poor hygiene conditions in Vietnam every year. There are also nearly 200,000 new cancer cases annually, with contaminated water one of the main suspected reasons.-VNA