HCM CITY — Though HCM City and Binh Duong have spent more than a trillion dong (US$46.7 million) in the past eight years to clean up the Ba Bo Canal, the increasing discharge of untreated wastewater from nearby factories means the efforts have come to naught.
The 1.7km canal drains rainwater from 1,560 hectares of land in Binh Duong and HCM City including several industrial parks like Song Than No 1 and 2, Viet Nam-Singapore, and Dong An, and Linh Trung processing zone.
Industrial wastewater discharged directly into it is the main cause of the pollution of the canal which has been dredged and had a concrete embankment built.
But others like a 5.7ha regulating reservoir and 2.45ha biological lake for treating the polluted water have yet to be built.
Le Thanh Tien, who lives near the canal, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that its water has become increasingly polluted and people call it a dead canal.
Every time locals see untreated effluents discharged into the canal, they take pictures and inform the media to seek its help, but despite a slew of articles about the pollution there has been no improvement, he said.
Pham Van Lic, 73, who has lived near the canal for decades, told the newspaper that until the 1990s there were a lot of fish in it and he often caught them for his 10-member family.
Everyone used its water for bathing and even cooking then, but in recent years it has become a dead canal, he said.
Nguyen Van Tu, yet another resident living near Ba Bo, said things deteriorated after 2003 when the Song Than No. 1 and 2 and Dong An Industrial Parks were built.
According to officials, every day the canal gets more than 10,000cu.m of untreated industrial wastewater from industrial parks in HCM City and Binh Duong.
To save it, local residents have urged authorities to take measures to control the quality of effluents discharged from the industrial parks.
An official at HCM City’s Centre for Flood Control Programme said a biological reservoir can only treat waste water discharged from residential areas and not industrial effluents.
The pollution would continue if the effluents are not treated right at their source, he warned.
Experts said cleaning up the canal would be pointless unless authorities put a halt to the discharge of polluted water from the industrial parks and illegal dumping of waste into it.
Tran Van Nam, deputy chairman of the Binh Duong People’s Committee, told the newspaper that every industrial park in the province has a wastewater treatment system and all effluents have to be treated before their release into Ba Bo.