Hydropower Plants polluting Dong Nai River: Experts

Damaging effects of Hydropower Plants have destroyed the ecosystem along the Dong Nai River and downgraded water quality, said Dr. Dao Trong Tu, director of Center for Sustainable Water Resources and Climate Change.

Pollution is rising in Dong Nai River (Photo: SGGP)

Dr. Tu has been studying the water quality of Dong Nai River for the last several years and is a member of the Vietnam Rivers Network.

According to Dr. Tu, up to 25 hydropower plants have been built along 1,060km of the Dong Nai River, which provides water to 20 million people in 11 provinces in the southern region.

Construction of so many hydropower plants along the river has destroyed the ecosystem in upper and mid stream and the river flow has changed adversely as it moves to the lower reaches, posing a higher threat of flooding in the rainy season and water shortage in the dry season.

None of the investors have complied with their promise to replant and green forest areas. In addition, industrial and household wastewater is also polluting water quality in the lower reaches. 

Hydropower Plants along the Dong Nai River contribute to 50 percent of the country’s electricity, but relevant authorities should weigh environmental damage as against economic benefits.

Three fourths of the country is mountainous and the remaining one third is alluvial soil along rivers for agricultural production. Production of 20,000MW of electricity requires use of 200 hectares of alluvial soil and evacuation of hundreds of residents.

Dai Ninh Hydropower Plant releases water into Dong Nai River for irrigation (Photo: SGGP)

In the short term, it is necessary to establish an organ to govern hydropower plants to operate systematically and synchronously. At present, they are being built and function autonomously, which does not oversee welfare of provinces in the lower reaches.

Reservoirs accumulate water to maintain operations instead of releasing water for farming in the dry season, and vice versa, instead of accumulating water during rainy season, they discharge water. This has led to untold damage to industrial and agricultural production in the lower reaches.

In the long term, authorized organs should fully study and specify environmental impact of hydropower projects to the Saigon-Dong Nai River belt. They need to pay more attention to food security and people’s livelihood.

Ministry of Industry and Trade should have overall, consistent and long-term electricity planning on the Dong Nai River instead of continuously changing policies as at present.

By staff writers – Translated by Hai Mien

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