Friend of river, enemy of litter

By Hoang Hai Van, TN News

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Residents of Phu My Hung never litter in public places, nor do visitors to the area. Residents of Phu My Hung never litter in public places, nor do visitors to the area.


Treating wastewater before discharging it into the environment is still neglected in Vietnam. Anybody in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can tell you about their polluted rivers into which the untreated wastewater of millions of people have been pouring. Some billion-dollar project have been carried out to improve the condition of To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers in Hanoi, as well as Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal in HCMC, but it will take many more generations, efforts and investments before they can be totally cleaned.
Cleaning the rivers, canals and sea around existing urban areas remains a crux for the authorities. Meanwhile, many of the newly-developed urban areas have ignored or neglected wastewater treatment. Currently about 770 urban areas discharge some 5.2 million cu.m. of wastewater every day, but the existing 24 wastewater treatment plants in those areas can process just about 550,000 cu.m. of wastewater per day. While urban residents are scared of tainted food, they haven’t paid decent attention to polluted rivers and groundwater which in turn can contaminate animals, vegetables and fruits and ultimately poison the food on their dining tables.
But the wastewater treatment system of Phu My Hung urban area stands out brilliantly in that gloomy picture. According to the its master plan, there are three wastewater treatment facilities in Zone A. Two of them, built at a cost of US$6 million in total, have been operational. Nguyen Buu Hoi, Vice General Director of PMH Development Company Ltd., said one facility is working at 70 percent of its capacity and the other just 25 percent. That means the existing facilities are capable of treating wastewater of an even more populous residential area and yet can still be expanded in the future.
PMH’s wastewater treatment system converts wastewater into an effluent that satisfies the national standards. The post-treatment water is sampled everyday for tests at the city’s Pasteur Institute before it is discharged into the environment. Hoi said, however, that PMH makes use of the discharged effluent to water trees and clean streets. It’s safe to say that thanks to this treatment system, local rivers and canals and land are not polluted by residents’ wastewater. The people here are not an enemy of the environment, but a good friend.
Running water, supplied by the city’s water utility, is sampled and tested at the Pasteur Institute to guarantee the highest safety standards for local residents, Hoi said.
In PMH, what you can see the least is trash. In an area of 120 hectares, more than 600 garbage collectors have been contracted to “never let a piece of trash touche the ground.” Besides their payments, PMH Company invested heavily in buying modern equipment to clean streets and constructions.
What is significant is that waste is gathered and divided into organic, inorganic and hazardous types before being processed. The government has for many year tried to apply the selective waste disposal system across the country, but mostly in vain. PMH is one of the few that can do that.
PMH is known as the country’s unique green and clean residential area. PMH, however, does not keep itself clean by pushing its trash to other places. This cleanliness not only shows on the surface but also exists in every resident’s mind. The people who live here never litter in public places, nor do visitors to the area. Their awareness apparently came natural, without the need of any forced propaganda or lessons. It is hard for anyone to dare trashing in a such well-cleaned place.
PMH Company is certainly not doing the job of the government. However it has pro-actively supported the local government by sharing some of the burdens of urban management. This is a good example of getting businesses’ involvement in urban management. But this is one that’s not easy to be repeated.
(9th installment of the Phu My Hung series. To be continued)

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