Vietnam is facing a worsening urban water environment amid a growing urban population, rising water supply and drainage demand, and unplanned construction.
By the end of 2016, Vietnam had 802 cities, including the two special metropolises of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Under plans for city development, about 44 million people will live in cities nationwide by 2020, 45% of the country’s population. The figure is set to reach 52 million by 2025, half of the total population.
There are now 37 wastewater treatment plants in cities with total capacity of 890,000 cubic metres a day, or 13% of the released wastewater, according to the Ministry of Construction.
Urban water drainage facilities are incomprehensive as they were built in different periods of time. Some sewer systems are also dilapidated, resulting in poor drainage capacity.
While many sewers are not big enough, concrete canals and ditches have also hampered water drainage. As a result, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are often flooded after heavy rains. Cities like Danang, Can Tho, Quy Nhon, Hai Phong and Nha Trang which rarely flooded in the past now also face frequent flooding.
A large volume of untreated wastewater is being released into the environment since many treatment facilities are unfinished. In many cities, few houses are connected with the local drainage network.
Meanwhile, the expansion of industrial parks has also led to an increase of wastewater. Water pollution in rivers, lakes and canals due to wastewater from industrial activities or craft villages is reportedly getting worse.
The water quality of rivers like Cau, Nhue, Day and Dong Nai is poor, seriously affecting the water supply for many cities.
According to the Centre for Environmental Monitoring under the Vietnam Environment Administration, the water of the Nhue River is only suitable for waterway transport while the water of the Day River, despite being better than the Nhue River, can only be used for irrigation.
In 2014, the Government issued Decree 80/2014 on water drainage and wastewater treatment which encourages the reuse of rainwater to help reduce flooding and the exploitation of underground and surface water. Those who want to invest in rainwater treatment and reuse technologies will be assisted with soft loans.
The Ministry of Construction also inked a deal with the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to enhance collaboration in wastewater-related systems.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also carrying out projects on improving the water environment in cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Danang, and Hue.