Waste water treatment badly needed in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian countries must develop solutions to deal with the increasing volumes of daily sewage and industrial waste water, experts have cautioned.

“Along with rapid economic growth, we face a serious demand to enhance the capacity of sewage and waste water treatment, especially in urban areas,” said Toshio Nagase, senior representative at Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) Viet Nam office.

Experts yesterday gathered at a two-day conference held in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province to discuss waste water treatment solutions.

According to the Ministry of Construction, the drainage systems in Vietnamese cities are used for multiple purposes, sewage, waste waste and rainwater.

Moreover, the drainage system was built in several stages and does not have adequate capacity.

Few cities in Viet Nam have centralised waste water treatment plants, and the percentage of households connected to the urban drainage system is still low, according to Nguyen Hong Tien, director of the ministry’s Administration of Technical Infrastructure.

The situation has worsened under the impact of climate change.

“There has been frequent flooding in HCM City and Ha Noi during heavy rains for years. Other big cities like Can Tho and Da Nang have suffered the same amount of flooding recently,” he said.

In Indonesia, under 2 per cent of urban areas have access to proper sewage systems, while 18 per cent of toilets are open to the environment and located over canals or rivers.

Budy Hidayat of Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency said many households pour untreated waste directly into the drainage system and rivers take the waste away.

He said sanitation seemed to be a private responsibility with little governmental engagement.

Khamthavy Thaipachach, director of the Laos Department of Housing and Urban Planning, said waste water from domestic areas, hospitals and industrial operations were discharged directly into the environment.

“Flooding in many urban areas also affects hygiene,” he said.

Tien of Viet Nam’s Administration of Technical Infrastructure said measures had been developed to deal with the situation.

Under the plan, by 2015, the country would upgrade or build new drainage systems to deal with flooding problems in cities.

By 2025, flooding in cities would cease as new systems are put into place.

Sewage and waste water would be separated from the common drainage system.

The country would also invest in advanced treatment technology and develop centralised treatment models as well as involve the private sector in the task.

Several experts at the conference said they were concerned that there would not be sufficient capital for these projects.

Jelle van Gijn of Asian Development Bank’s Viet Nam Water Team said the bank had a line credit of around US$2 billion for a 10-year programme from 2014 in Viet Nam.

But he said that capital expenditures for the Viet Nam national strategy must largely come from central government grants and costs from user fees.

Nagase of JICA said that it was assisting Viet Nam to develop sewage systems and waste water treatment plants across the country, including at Ha Noi, HCM City, Hai Phong, Hue and Binh Duong.

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