The sheer volume of household and industrial wastewater is challenging the capacity of the southern city’s major treatment plants, posing a high risk of pollution.
The wastewater is transported from its sources to treatment facilities via artificial canals, including the Ba Bo Canal crossing Thu Duc District, before being released into the Saigon River.
Stretching over 1,700 meters, Ba Bo Canal receives more than 25,000 cubic meters of wastewater every day.
Over the past decade, the canal has faced the threat of serious pollution, with the potential to adversely affect the lives of nearby residents.
The waterway gives off an unpleasant odor during the dry season, and the wastewater often mixes with rain to cause flooding in the area.
In 2007, the municipal People’s Committee approved multiple projects to upgrade the channel, including dredging and expanding, with expenditure topping VND300 billion (US$13.1 million).
While the original measures were successful in preventing flooding, extra expenditure was then required to pay for biological treatment technology.
Authorities in Binh Duong Province have also invested in a system to collect and treat liquid waste that they then dump into the Ba Bo Canal.
The two localities have spent approximately VND1.3 trillion (US$57.1 million) renovating the waterway.
During a meeting with the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council in early July, Nguyen Toan Thang, director of the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment, confirmed that the pollution problem had not been solved.
Speaking at the gathering, several experts said that the biological treatment is only effective on household wastewater, and that industrial wastewater needs to be closely monitored.
The coordination between Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong has not been efficient, they added.
The city’s administration submitted a request to the prime minister last month, proposing the construction of the Suoi Nhum treatment plant, which would be tasked with treating liquid waste from Binh Duong before it is discharged into any Ho Chi Minh City canal.
The facility is expected to be built on an area of four hectares in Linh Trung Ward, Thu Duc District, with a capacity of 65,000 cubic meters per day.
The total capital investment is estimated at VND523 billion (US$23 million).
The project will be carried out under a BOT (build-operate-transfer) and BT (build-transfer) contracts.
Once the proposal is approved, the project will not take long to finish as the location is already available, Nguyen Ngoc Cong, director of the Steering Center of the Urban Flood Control Program, said, adding that the construction would take approximately one and a half years.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities will also ask their counterparts in Binh Duong to tighten management of industrial waste released from local factories.