Concerns have been raised about the quality of tap water in Ho Chi Minh City as new data has showed water is being sourced from heavily contaminated rivers and canals.
A study from the Institute of Environment and Natural Resources at Vietnam National University in HCMC found a high level of bacterial pollution in all canals in the city.
The city discharges around 1.3 million cubic meters of household sewage every day, but only around 14 percent is properly collected and treated, it found, as reported by Tuoi Tre newspaper.
That means the rest goes directly into canals, most of which run into the Saigon River. The river, together with the Dong Nai, are the water sources for the city.
The rivers are also polluted by industrial activities in the southern provinces of Dong Nai and Binh Duong, according to the study.
HCMC water supply officials admitted that water taken from the rivers for processing contain organic pollutants, which can cause serious health effects. But they said the amount is “within permitted levels.”
Organic micropollutants are linked to the production and use of chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, detergents and the likes. They are resistant to environmental degradation and can cause disruption within the reproductive system, the central nervous system, or the immune system.
Bui Xuan Thanh, a lecturer from HCMC University of Technology, said the city needs to eliminate these pollutants from the raw supply, by investing in more sewage treatment plants, imposing better control on industrial waste treatment and stopping people from dumping waste directly into the waterways.
Thanh said the current water treatment system using the inexpensive chlorine-based technologies is not effective enough to get rid of dangerous pollutants.
He said the pollutants can even react to chlorine and become even more harmful.
Thanh said a combination of ozonation and biological activated carbon filtration can be a better water purification solution.
Drastic measures are necessary to make tap water in HCMC drinkable, Thanh said.