Urban Water, Environment Need Improvement

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The (Project for Urban Water Environment Improvement) has raised the awareness of the capital’s residents since the release of its master plan to promote better water and drainage solutions.

However, despite Vientiane having improved its drainage network, the water quality in the drainage canals and marshes is still getting worse if compared with other ASEAN neighbouring cities.

The matter was discussed by senior officials from line ministries involved and a JICA expert team at the joint coordinating committee meeting on the Project for Urban Water Environment Improvement, held on Friday in Vientiane. The meeting was attended by Vientiane Deputy Mayor, Mr Keophilavanh Aphaylath, representatives from JICA and other invited guests.

The urban water situation remains bad because of the increasing discharge of domestic wastewater from residential areas as a result of improved lifestyles, as well as rapid economic and population growth, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The project has developed facilitators and resource persons for environmental education and implemented campaigns for load reduction from wastewater and regular cleaning activities of canals by communities and the Vientiane Urban Development Administration Authority.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Keophilavanh stressed that the drainage channel system is being developed to help the natural function of the marsh; however the system will work better if waste water can be managed more efficiently to ease the load on the marsh.

“If it is better managed the marsh could become a great energy and water resource for Vientiane,” he said.

Most of the floodwater and grey water waste originating from households flows into the canals and marshes, which actslike a natural filter before the water eventually makes its way into the Mekong River.

However, it seems the marsh can no longer contain the amount of chemicals and industrial pollutants that are now draining into it.

“With the development of Vientiane, many roads, factories and houses have been built nearby, which are putting more strain onthemarsh,”hesaid.

Another problem is that of illegal dumping, with many residents living near canals and marshes dumping plastic and household garbage around the shores of the lake, instead of disposing of it in a more responsible way. The Urban Water Environment Improvement Project aims to strengthen the institutional framework and organisation for wastewater treatment in Vientiane capital through a participatory approach.

In Laos, less attention has been paid to the sanitation sector than others. Therefore, this project can be treated as a milestone, both for the urban sanitation sector in the country and for raising issues on urban sanitation. The National Strategy on Environment up to the year 2020 of the Lao PDR stipulates to implement measures for sustainable development as one of its main objectives, where water environment management is included.

 

Source: Vientiane Times