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Ho Chi Minh City groundwater risks overexploitation: seminar

Ho Chi Minh City groundwater risks overexploitation: seminar

Thursday, April 28, 2022, 18:40 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City groundwater risks overexploitation: seminar
Students wash their hands with tap water at an elementary school in Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

The rich groundwater resources of Ho Chi Minh City have become vulnerable to various threats brought about by overexploitation, experts said at a seminar on Wednesday.

The seminar on protecting clean water supply and limiting groundwater exploitation was organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and Saigon Water Supply Corporation (Sawaco) in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.

Groundwater contributes greatly to the supply of water for daily use, according to Dr. Ha Quang Khai from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology.

In 2000, Ho Chi Minh City exploited about 300,000 cubic meters of groundwater a day, Khai continued, adding that the amount increased to 700,000 cubic meters per day in 2012.

The overexploitation resulted in a drop in groundwater levels by 2015, causing land subsidence in multiple places.

Some locales sank about four centimeters a year, which was the main reason behind increasingly serious flooding.

“City authorities have recently obtained some achievements in managing groundwater exploitation,” the expert elaborated.

The use of groundwater is not completely banned but is limited, he said, considering the resources a good tool to adapt to climate change.

In 2018, the municipal People’s Committee directed the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to develop a plan to reduce groundwater mining, according to Huynh Thanh Nha, an official from the environmental department.

The agency has built a road map to lower the use of groundwater to only 100,000 cubic meters a day by 2025, Nha stated.

Dao Phu Khanh, an official from the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control, believed that the direct use of groundwater from drilled wells poses potential dangers to human health.

Previous tests showed that 70 percent of the water samples failed to meet the standards in terms of pH, ammonium, iron, and pathogenic microorganism content, Khanh explained.

“We have warned local residents that using untreated water sources can lead to acute diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid,” he stated.

“Water with too much iron can cause yellow stains in clothes and intestinal diseases for humans, while a high pH level can result in itchy skin.”

However, many households have consumed water from wells for decades, and it is quite hard to tell them to kick such a habit, Khanh added.

Tran Quang Minh, general director of Sawaco, said the corporation has struggled to encourage people to switch to tap water.

Sawaco has installed 160,000 water meters, each costing up to VND5 million (US$217), for local families but they still refuse to utilize its water supply service.

In addition, industrial parks, export processing zones, and factories are still exploiting a large volume of groundwater.

Sawaco is mulling over a reduction in tap water cost so that residents and businesses can stop fetching water from drilled wells, Minh elaborated.

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Duy Khang - Le Phan - Cam Nuong / Tuoi Tre News

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