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Pollution Soars in the Mekong Delta

Ellen Hardy
19 September 2008, at 1:00am

VIET NAM - Water resources in the Mekong Delta are seriously polluted, said the Environmental Agency under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

According to the agency, the content of E.coli bacteria in the Mekong Delta’s rivers and canals is 2-5 times more than the permitted level while the BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) exceed the threshold by 1-3 times.

The Mekong Delta’s environment is polluted partly because of the expansion of rice fields from 3.2 million hectares in 1995 to 3.9 million hectares in 2008, which has brought about an increase in the amount of fertiliser and pesticide in use.

It is estimated that every year, Mekong Delta farmers use from 1.3 to 1.7 million tonnes of fertiliser for the winter-spring and summer-autumn crops. As a matter of fact, local farmers use much more than the needed level.

The quick expansion of ponds rearing tra catfish is another reason. In 1995, the Delta had 200,000ha of water surface for aquatic breeding and the figure is more than 700,000ha at present. Meanwhile, waste from aquaculture is not treated effectively.

According to the Institute for Aquatic Economics and Planning, aquaculture in the Mekong Delta results in nearly 500 million cu.m of mud and waste, including more than 2 million tonnes per year from tra and basa breeding.