HCMC water ordered to improve, stem groundwater use

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Ho Chi Minh City’s major water supplier was told this week to improve its services so that water-strapped families and businesses would no longer have to rely on over-exploited and polluted groundwater.

The city People’s Committee asked the Saigon Water Corporation, known as Sawaco, to raise the quality of water that it brings to households and reduce leaks in its pipelines to ensure that city residents and businesses receive their due.

Statistics by HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment showed that around one third of city residents are using groundwater for household and production activities.

More than 200,000 wells across the city exploit a total of more than one million cubic meters of underground water a day, most of them illegally, the department found.

Inspections by city agencies in 2009 found that groundwater in outlying districts including Districts 9, Thu Duc, Hoc Mon, Cu Chi and Nha Be had been highly contaminated with microorganisms.

Many abandoned wells now serve as paths by which pollutants to move from the surface underground and destroy groundwater, according to experts from the Mekong Delta, where groundwater sources are drying up.

Experts also said that when the aquifers become drier, underground flows would connect them, meaning that one contaminated aquifer could lead to widespread contamination.

Experts have been near unanimous in blaming water utility providers for insufficient services that force people to exploit water from underground

Reported by Minh Nam

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