Overview of IWRM in Vietnam

Vietnam has 3,450 rivers with 8 major river basins having a total area of 270.5 thousand sq.km, which accounts for 81.7% of the total land areas in the country. There are 25 interprovincial river basins. Also, along the coastline of Vietnam there is an estuary on average every 5 to 20km along the coastline. The water resources in the river basin play a vital role in the socio-economic development of the country.

The following is an overview of the status of water pollution management in Vietnam. The status for the other key water management issues (water supply management, irrigation management, stormwater management, flood management and water sanitation management) in Vietnam will be reported later by the relevant government agencies.

Water Pollution Management

Socio-economic development in Vietnam has caused adverse impacts on the water environment. The river water quality has deteriorated in many areas, especially in the sections running through urban, industrial areas and craft villages and severe water pollution normally occurs during the dry season. The sources for water pollution are wastewater discharged from households, industries and agricultural production activities, waterway transportation and aquaculture. The development of irrigation and hydropower works are have also impacted the river environment. At the moment, the most severe water pollution occur in the following three main river basins – the Cau, Nhue-Day and Dong Nai river basins.

The figure below shows the institutional system in Vietnam for water management.

Vietnam - Institutional System for Water Pollution Management

 

The following is the list of policy and legislation related to water pollution management in Vietnam.

  1. Resolution No.41-NQ/TW dated 15 November, 2004 by the Communist Politburo on the strengthening of the environmental protection activities during the acceleration period of the country’s modernization and industrialization.
  2. Directive No.29-CT/TW issued by the Communist Party Central Committee on 21 January, 2009 on the consolidation of the implementation of Resolution No.41-NQ/TW
  3. Law on Environment Protection enacted in 2014
  4. Law on Water Resources enacted in 2012
  5. National Strategy on Environment Protection towards 2020 and vision towards 2030
  6. National Strategy on Water Resources towards 2020 approved by the Government on 14 April, 2006
  7. Decision No.120/2008/QĐ-CP issued by the Government on 1 December, 2008 on river basin management
  8. A number of secondary legal instruments in relation to water resource management have also been issued by the Government such as Decree No.67/2003/NĐ-CT dated on 13 June 2003 on environmental charge imposed on wastewater; Decree No.149/2004/NĐ-CP dated on 27 July 2004 prescribing the licensing for water exploitation, use and wastewater discharge into natural water bodies.
  9. In parallel with the consolidation of the legislation the system of national technical regulations and standards in relation to river/pond water quality have also been strengthened.

The figure below shows the institutional system for the management of the three main river basins in Vietnam (the Cau, Nhue–Day and Dong Nai river basins).

Vietnam - Institutional System for River Basin Management

The figure below shows the organisational structure for environmental protection of river basins in Vietnam.

Vietnam - Organisation structure for Environmental Protection

The following is a list of the programs that have been implemented to address water pollution in the three main river basins in Vietnam.

  1. A comprehensive program towards 2020 for the preservation and sustainable development of ecology and landscape in Cau River Basin has been approved in accordance with the Decision No. 174/2006/QĐ-TTg dated 28th July 2006 by Prime Minister
  2. A comprehensive program towards 2020 on environment protection in the Dong Nai River Basin has been approved in accordance with the Decision No. 187/2007/QĐ-TTg dated on 3 December 2007 by Prime Minister
  3. A comprehensive program towards 2020 on environment protection in the Nhue-Day River Basin has been approved in accordance with the Decision No. 57/2008/QĐ-TTg dated on 29 April 2008

The National Target Program on pollution rehabilitation of the 3 main river basins (i.e. Cau, Nhue-Day and Dong Nai) has also been approved. The following are the lists of comprehensive programs for the three main river basins.

  • Comprehensive Programs for the Cau River Basin
  1. Specific projects have not yet been determined in the approved comprehensive program.
  2. Based on the objectives and the targets set in the approved comprehensive program, 18 specific projects have been identified by the relevant provinces.
  3. Financial sources will be mobilized from the state budget, local state budget, Vietnam Environment Protection Fund (VEPF), investment from private companies, grants/loans from international donors and financial support from domestic and foreign individuals.

The figure below shows an example of water pollution in the Cau River Basin.

Vietnam - Water Pollution in Cau River Basin

  • Comprehensive Programs for the Nhue-Day River Basin
  1. Includes 12 specific projects that were identified at the time of approval.
  2. Total required budget is estimated at VND3,335 billion
  3. The required budget will be mobilized from various souces: state budget, local state budget, Vietnam Environment Protection Fund, investment from private companies, grants/loans from international donors and financial support from domestic and foreign individuals.
  1. The budget allocated for each specifically identified project will be decided by the competent authority in accordance with current legislation.

The figure below shows an example of water pollution in the Nhue-Day River Basin.

Vietnam - Water Pollution in Nhue-Day River Basin

  • Comprehensive Programs for the Dong Nai River Basin
  1. Includes 16 core projects that were identified at the time of approval.
  2. Total required budget is estimated at VND1,938 billion.
  3. The required budget will be mobilized from various souces: state budget, local state budget, Vietnam Environment Protection Fund, investment from private companies, grants/loans from international donors and financial support from domestic and foreign individuals.

The figure below shows an example of water pollution in the Dong Nai River Basin.

Vietnam - Water Pollution in Dong Nai River Basin

The following are some strategies that have adopted to address water pollution in Vietnam.

(a) Economic Instruments

  1. Developing Decree 25/2014/ND-CP on environment protection fee for waste water.
  2. Developing Decree 179/2014/ND-CP on administrative fine for environment violation.
  3. Developing Decree 34/2005/ND-CP on administrative fine for water resouces violation.

(b) Public awareness

Implementing public awareness in the 3 main river basins – the Cau, Nhue–Day and Dong Nai. The community participation has been very passive and limited.

The following is a list of the initiatives to develop and used river water quality monitoring database and information system at both the central and local level in Vietnam.

  1. National environment monitoring network: 4/21 surface water mornitoring stations  with frequency of 4 to 6 times/year
  2. Vietnam Environment Administration: 10 surface water monitoring programmes including 3 surface water monitoring programes in 3 typical economic zones and 7 river surface water monitoring programes with frequency of 4 times/year  
  3. Local environment monitoring network: 54/63 provinces have established Environment Monitoring Center. Their environment monitoring program have been developed annually with frequency of 3 to 4 times/year

Concluding Remarks

Although the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) has been designated as the leading organization in terms of environment protection in river basins, the inter-agency co-ordination is facing many difficulties due to the followings reasons:

  1. The relevant tasks/functions of water use/exploitation governance are allocated among various line ministries while the co-ordination among them is still loose and inconsistent. This leads to ineffective and less efficient use/exploitation of river water for socio-economic development.
  2. Each line ministry or each province has regulated the use/exploitation of river water based on its own regulation. This leads to many difficulties in distinguishing of competencies, tasks and functions among the relevant stakeholders. Besides, the allocation of relevant tasks, functions and competencies among the relevant authorities to support the MoNRE’s co-ordination role is still unclear.
  3. MoNRE’s regulatory network at the local and grass-root levels is still weak (only a staff is designated at the district level) while almost all governance functions and tasks relating to water use/exploitation at the local and grass-root levels are designated to the other line ministries (g. MARD, MoC, MoT, etc…).

The following are some of the progress that MoNRE has made in addressing water pollution in Vietnam:

  1. The water quality in some sections of the rivers has improved.
  2. The policy framework has been gradually consolidated both at the central and local levels to help the facilitation of environmental protection in river basins.
  3. Cross-cutting and inter-provincial issues such as the development of hydropower in Dong Nai river, solving of trans-boundary pollution in the channels of Bà Bò and Thày Cai and Giêng river, planning of Tân Thành Regional Waste Treatment Complex (Thủ Thừa district of Long An province), water regulation in Day river running from Hanoi into Ha Nam during dry season, etc.
  4. Inventory of pollution sources, pollution control activities, planning and zoning of areas allowable for discharging, appraisal/granting water exploitation/wastewater discharge licenses have been implemented in a more effective way.
  5. Investment in wastewater treatment facilities and technical infrastructure systems have been given more attention by the local governments. A number of big scale projects in the field of environment sanitation have been implemented by financial sources mobilized from ODA and domestic state budget (e.g. Hochiminh city Environment Sanitation Project, Project on Water Improvement for Southern Bình Dương, Wastewater Treatment Projects for Da Lat city and Bien Hoa city etc.)
  6. Water quality monitoring, information and database systems for the improvement of environmental protection activities have been given more financial investment.
  7. A number of regional and/or inter-provincial projects have been implemented by the line ministries (e.g. planning of environmental activities in river basin; development of environmental database for the river basins of Cau, Nhue-Day and Dong Nai; planning of drainage and sewerage systems of residential areas and industrial zones towards 2030 in the river basins of Cau, Nhue-Day and Dong Nai)