Following our story last week on Hanoi’s water pollution crisis, we investigated where Hanoi’s tap water actually comes from. 80% of water used in our homes comes from groundwater, and the other 20% from rivers like the Da River, via the Gia Lam Water Treatment Plant, a Japanese-funded initiative. The ground water has several major pollutants, including arsenic, ammonia and e-coli, while the river water, as we know from events last week, contains industrial effluent. 98% of rivers and lakes here fail to meet minimum water purity standards, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
The good news is that at least water goes through a treatment plant before it reaches our homes, but the bad news is that water treatment plants are on a tight budget, and they apparently don’t have the funds to treat water to world standards. There’s talk that last week’s Da River water contamination was detected by the treatment plant, but management of the plant deemed it too expensive to filter the toxins out of the water, and thus allowed the water to flow onto consumers containing styrene, a carcinogenic chemical.
Many water supply systems in Vietnam are now privately owned and we can only hope that government officials inspect these facilities more rigorously and impose huge penalties on companies that knowingly pass on contaminated water to residents.