Canal cleaned up, wastewater now dumped into Saigon River: report

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The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal has been cleaned up. Photo: Anh Quan/TBKTSG The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal has been cleaned up. Photo: Anh Quan/TBKTSG

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The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe is considered an outstanding example of Ho Chi Minh City’s good urban development, with the once heavily polluted canal cleaned up a few years ago with World Bank funding.
But if one looks at the bigger picture, it is not quite a success since waste and sewage produced by more than 1.2 million people living along the more than eight-kilometer canal is instead dumped into the Saigon River.
The people discharge an average of 230,000 cubic meters of sewage every day, which will then be released to the Saigon River, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
This has happened since July 2012, and on occasions the discharge is as much as 550,000 cubic meters.
City officials claim the wastewater is not going to worsen the quality of the Saigon River.
But an expert from the city’s Water and Environment Association revealed anonymously to Tuoi Tre newspaper that many urban planning experts had disagreed from the beginning with the plan of diverting sewage from the canal into the Saigon River.
The river is the main source of water for the city, and the extra sewage can affect the quality of the water people use every day to cook and drink, the expert said.
Pending treatment plant
The cleanup project involves a second stage in which the wastewater is to be treated, but it has not been carried out yet.
Managers of the canal clean-up project blame the city government for the delay, saying it switched the wastewater treatment program between various agencies and only approved the final plan in October 2014.
A pipe system will be installed to carry the sewage from the Saigon River to a treatment plant to be built in District 2, all at a cost of US$524 million, which will include a $450-million loan from the World Bank.
Vuong Hai Long, chief manager of the canal cleanup project, said work on the treatment plant is expected to start in the first quarter next year and finish in 2021, when it can treat 480,000 cubic meters of sewage daily.
The first stage of the project was funded by $248 million worth of zero-interest loans from the World Bank and $68 million from the city’s coffers.

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