Pollution treatments to To Lich river only surface level

To Lich river is over 14km long, flowing through 5 districts of Hanoi. For many years, To Lich has become a “dead river” due to heavy pollution, seriously affecting the city’s environment as well as people living along the river. City oficials have attempted various measures to try and revive the  river, but so far they have only solved the problems on the surface.

Dead fish floating on To Lich river
Dead fish floating on To Lich river

Short-lived cleanliness

Several days ago, city dwellers in Cau Giay, Dong Da and Thanh Xuan districts were treated to a pleasant surprise as the heavily polluted and stinking To Lich river suddenly become crystal clearer than ever, some even sitting along the riverbank with their fishing poles.

This event came about by courtesy of Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company, who has opened sluicegates to direct more than 1 million cubic meters of water from West Lake into To Lich river to aid drainage and prevent flooding during the rainy season, as well as cleaning out the river, said a spokesperson for Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company.

However, the sluicegates were only opened for 3 days, so people were quickly disappointed when the river returned its previously polluted state. According to Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper reporters, after the water flow from West Lake was cut off and To Lich river got shallower, fishes began dying and floated above the water, emitting foul smells.

More coordinated measure needed

Environmental experts have expressed their honest opinions about Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company’s attempt, saying that it would not make any major difference. As To Lich river is more than 14 km long, it will only take a few days before it returns to its original state.

Along with the recent water discharge, Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company recently proposed a plan by direct water from the Red River to clean up To Lich river. According to this plan, they will build a fixed pumping station near the edge of the river, consisting of 4 submersible pumps with a capacity of 2,500 cubic meters per hour. The system would lead water from the pump station through the ditch next to Ho Tay Water Park and into To Lich river.

A fully fledged plan was also proposed by the company, including the construction of Yen Xa wastewater treatment plant to clean the water from To Lich, Set, Lu and Nhue rivers, and a system of sewers along the rivers to collect waste water. After the river water is treated, To Lich would still need to have water supplemented to support the natural flow, said Mr. Phan Hoai Minh, Deputy General Director of Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company.

The proposal to use Red River water to clean out To Lich river is highly welcomed by experts. However, in order to keep up the cleanliness, thousands of cubic meters of waste water flowing daily into To Lich river must be thoroughly handled. According to Prof. Ngo Dinh Tuan, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Environment and Natural Resources, the revival of To Lich river must be done in a feasible order, beginning with rejuvenating the river banks, followed by treating waste water being dumped into the river, and finally directing the Red River water into To Lich river.

Dr. Takeba Akira, Advisor of Japan Trade-Environment Promotion Organization, said that To Lich river must be cleaned out before introducing a new water flow, because the river is heavily polluted, receiving 150,000m3 of waste water from nearly 300 discharge culverts each day.

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