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Infrastructure Strains Flush Polluted Water Straight Into Vietnam's Beaches

Waste treatment infrastructures unable to contend with increased sewage from tourism and development projects means pollution is overwhelming some of Vietnam's most famous beaches including those in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. 

Dan Tri reported an incident of blackish wastewater invading Nha Trang's Hon Chong Beach and Ha Ra residential area. Nguyen Van Dam, director of Khanh Hoa Water Supply And Sewerage JSC, explained: "The drainage system was built for a small residential area, not for so many hotels and buildings. The temporary solution is to add more pumps but it's not good enough because we can't control the rainfall."

The sullied water is not unique to Nha Trang. From Cat Ba in the north to Phu Quoc in the south and Da Nang in the central region, once-clear waters are quickly becoming filth-filled with coastal marine life suffering as a result. Moreover, the introduction of pollutants often produces a phenomenon known as "red tide" wherein a specific type of algae blooms out of control, harming ecosystems, industrial productivity and tourism appeal. 

After bouts of heavy rain on during the first week of May, local beaches in Da Nang were blackened by direct waste discharge from the city. According to the Da Nang Department of Natural Resources and Environment, since April 2018, they have recorded around 200 of such cases.

In addition to the detrimental effect of tourism development, mainland aquaculture threatens coastal ecosystems. Spillover from mainland operations destroys native habitats. According to a recent report, 10% of the nation's rivers are classified as "seriously polluted" while as many as 90% of coral reefs are threatened and 80% of mangrove forests have vanished. 

Little reason for optimism exists. While officials have taken note of the issue and paid lip service to the need for stronger regulations and the establishment of more protected zones, much more needs to be done to salvage local beaches. Because important elements of the Law on Marine and Island Resources and Environment have not been completed and legal loopholes loom large, local municipalities and agencies must enact necessary marine protection.

Director of the Da Nang Department of Natural Resources and Environment To Van Hung said of the pollution in his city: "The wastewater treatment facilities have become unable to meet the fast urban development in the city, especially in Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son District. There have not been clear policies and instructions on wastewater standard and reuse."

[Photo via Shilfa]

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