The tests of surface water samples recently taken from the river showed that the suspended solids (SS), iron, ammonium (from animal waste and sewer water), chemical oxygen demand (COD), biological oxygen demand (BOD) and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) have exceeded the allowable limits by the country’s standards, the departments of natural resources and environment in Vinh Long and Tien Giang provinces reported.
Last year another test of samples taken from 42 locations on the river in Dong Thap province also showed the samples failed to meet all major safety targets, the authorities said.
The content of grease and oil in the river water was 1.5-75 higher than the permissible limits while the content of Coliform, a bacterium that causes bowel disease, was 100 to 1,000 times higher and that of E. Coli, another bacterium that can cause serious infections, was 22-860 times higher.
Traces of pesticide also were found in the samples, the authorities said.
Luu Minh Manh, head of the Tien Giang Environmental Protection Sub-department, said that the My Tho City discharges into the river about 50,000 cubic meters of untreated household wastewater daily.
A project to build a household wastewater treatment plant for My Tho has been set up, but it has yet to be approved by the competent agency, Manh said.
If all other cities located along the river were taken into account, the total volume of such wastewater would be very large. Meanwhile, no study has been done on how many harmful substances in household wastewater can affect the quality of river water, which is used every day by local people, he said.
According to other experts, the river has also been polluted by untreated industrial waste released into the river by factories and breeding farms located outside industrial parks.
Building a waste treatment system requires large investment, so many companies deliberately discharged untreated waste into the river and were ready to pay fines instead when their violation was discovered by competent agencies, experts said. Dare not to bathe in the river
Nguyen Van Thu, 84, in Tien Giang’s Chau Thanh District, located along the river, said he and many other local residents have neither dared to bathe in the river nor used its water for washing clothing.
“Whenever going near the river bank, I always find grease, discharged by seafood processing facilities nearby, floating on the water. People who bathe in the river will suffer rashes on their skin caused by the water. Last Tet I watered my flower plants using the river water and the flowers withered soon afterwards,” Thu said.
Nguyen Van Tu, a senior fisherman in the district, said the anchovy and lòng tong (a kind of gudgeon) population has decreased in the area, while many species of fish that can survive in contaminated water have become increasingly common.
“The river water is very dirty and I have found nobody here bathing in it anymore. As a fisherman, I frequently have to soak myself in the river, so I often suffer from itches,” he said.
Meanwhile, a large number of people in Tan Hong District and Tram Chim Town in Dong Thap Province are suffering from the untreated wastewater released from fish breeding farms.
Most of the farms have not complied with regulations on treating such wastewater, the Tan Hong natural resources and environment department said. Tuoitre