Da Lat may run out of clean water in ten years: official

The prime source of household water for tens of thousands of Da Lat residents could be depleted in ten years due to agricultural pollution

A sanitation worker collects floating litter from the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake in Lam Dong Province.

Agricultural pollution is fast depleting the province of Lam Dong in Vietnam’s Central Highlands of clean water, with an official expecting total depletion in a decade.

The alarming scenario was brought up by Nguyen Ngoc Phuc, director of the Lam Dong Department of Natural Resources and Environment, at a meeting of the provincial People’s Council on Wednesday.

Phuc addressed worsening pollution at the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake in Lac Duong District.

The largest freshwater manmade lake in Lam Dong, the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake holds approximately 20 million cubic meters of water in its reservoir.

Raw water taken from the lake is processed by a local water company, providing household water for the entire capital city of Da Lat and Lac Duong District.

Although processed water is safe for use, should the current state of pollution at the Dankia-Suoi Van Lake and other freshwater lakes in the province persist, Da Lat and Lam Dong would run out of useable water in just ten years’ time, Phuc said.

Environmental evaluations have found blooming agricultural and tourist activities in the areas upstream of Lam Dong responsible for the water pollution at the downstream lakes.

Nguyen Thi Le, a representative of Da Lat in Vietnam’s legislature, blamed unplanned mass construction of greenhouses in Lam Dong for excessive levels of suspended solids, heavy metals and harmful microorganisms found in lake water.

The levels of these toxins are between 1.5 and two times higher than the allowed limit, Le said.

“Relevant authorities are working to establish a protected corridor around vital lakes in the province,” Phuc said.

The director added that water pollution at the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake could affect tourism and agricultural production within an area of 1,700 hectares around the lake.

Sanitation workers could be seen working day and night to pick up litter from the lake, most of which are used bottles or packages of pesticide thrown away by nearby farms.

“We are planning to request permission from the provincial administration to shift from growing short-day plants to long-day and herbal ones, which produce less agricultural waste,” Phuc said.

Around 6.3 million cubic meters of water is taken every year from the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake to be processed and supplied to Da Lat’s population of around 50,000.

The volume of chemicals needed to treat the water has increased tenfold over the past ten years, according to Lam Dong Water Company (LAWACO).

Serious pollution in the lake also threatens to take away household water from 5,000 residents in Lac Duong District, the company noted.

A LAWACO representative told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that increased use of treatment chemicals has degraded the quality of output water, while reducing the factory’s overall capacity.

According to recent tests carried out by the Nuclear Research Institute of Da Lat, water of the Dankia-Suoi Vang Lake is infected with E. coli 12 times the acceptable amount of the bacteria.

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