VietNamNet Bridge – Over the last 20 years, local residents in Van Ninh district of Khanh Hoa province, have been using the water from the rice fields for daily activities. However, they have become nervous than ever when discovering many young people dieing because of cancer recently.
The Da Trang soil area is located close to the 1A Highway in Van Hung commune of Van Ninh district has been arid and rocky, where there is no underground fresh water. In 1988, after Khanh Hoa local authorities build Da Ban water reservoir, about 14 kilometers away and set up a canal system that leads water to the rice fields in Van Hung, the two hamlets of Xuan Dong and Xuan Tay were established.
At that time, the local residents of the two hamlets dug the ponds, about 30-200 square meters, next to their homes. Water is carried from the rice fields or from the canals and put into the ponds for reservation. They also dug wells next to the ponds to get water from the ponds after the endosmosis process.
For the last 20 years, 737 households here with 3239 people have been using the water from the wells, which in fact originated from canals and rice fields, for their daily activities. They use the water for washing and cleaning, and filter the water for cooking rice and meals with just simple treatment way.
Visitors to the hamlets may fear fearful when witnessing local residents using that kind of water. Most of the ponds at households that keep water look turbid, while the water turns red because of the alum. Some households even breed poultry, fish or grow water-fern right on the ponds.
Dau Van Thoa, 61, in Xuan Dong hamlet, said that he himself and local residents understand that it’s really dangerous to use the water from the rice fields and canals which have become seriously polluted with carcasses, hundreds of types of waste, and pesticide residues.
“We are fearful of using the water for eating and drinking. However, having dirty water proves to be better than having no water,” he said.
“Every year, in the hot season, from April to July, the canals and the ponds get exhausted. We have to travel several kilometers to buy water from Xuan Vinh and Ha Gia hamlets at 10,000 dong per 30 liter can.
In 2004, the Khanh Hoa provincial center for clean water and environmental sanitation spent 2.7 billion dong to build a pump system and a clean water reservoir which provided water to two hamlets of Xuan Dong and Xuan Tay. Then every household contributed 500,000 dong or 1.5 million dong to have installed the pipes that brought water to their homes.
However, the clean water was provided only for a short time. The system got turbid with mud just after several months of using. It only provided water in dribs and drabs, then got heavily broken down and has stopped working since then.
Tran Thi Thu, Chair of the Van Hung commune, said that the commune has to spend money to hire workers to protect the multi-billion dong project which has been left idle.
“We feel sorry for the people who have to use dirty water for the last many years. However, we are a poor commune, and we do not have money to have tap water,” she said.
The cancer village
Vu Trong Nam, Head of the Xuan Dong hamlet, said that the ponds that contain water for a long time produce a lot of mosquitoes. In the evening, people have to have meals inside mosquito nets. Mosquitoes carry many germs that cause fever to people.
However, the biggest worry for local residents is the increasingly high number of people who suffer from cancer in recent years. Besides, in the last five years, 80 percent of local women suffer gynecological diseases due to the substandard water.
The heads of the two hamlets have reported that six people died of cancer in Xuan Tay Hamlet, while 16 died of cancer in Xuan Dong, including the two who died several days ago.
“All of them died at the age of 40-50. This has frightened us. Is it the dirty water that causes the deaths?” questioned Cao Nhu Hoang, Head of Xuan Tay hamlet.
Source: Lao dong