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The causes are uncontrollabilities  to urbanization, economic and social development,  population growth and increasing water demands that leads to the huge volume of  waste water  discharging directly to  the environment (môi trường đã là chung nhất bao gồm cả nguồn nước rồi)  especially to water sources.  Untreated wastewater discharged into rivers and streams will  seriously damage

CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystem (WLE)


Policy brief



Fellow: Trinh Thi Thu Van

Mentor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bui Cong Quang

Hanoi, 25 September  2016



 Case study: Thuong river in Bac Giang province


  1. 1. Introduction

The context of wastewater and water pollution of Vietnam

Vietnam has more than 2,360 rivers and streams longer than 10km, and thousands of lakes and ponds. The water sources are habitat and living resources of the fauna, flora and millions of people. However, these water resources are being degraded and destroyed by over exploitation and pollution to varying degrees. Even many rivers, river sections, lakes and ponds are "dead".

The causes are uncontrollabilities  to urbanization, economic and social development,  population growth and increasing water demands that leads to the huge volume of  waste water  discharging directly to  the environment (môi trường đã là chung nhất bao gồm cả nguồn nước rồi)  especially to water sources.  Untreated wastewater discharged into rivers and streams will  seriously damage the environment, adversely affect to aquatic life, livelihood and human health.

According to a survey of the Center for National Environmental Monitoring (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), the status of surface water quality is seriously degraded  in many places.

The North has a large population (especially the Red River Delta). A large amount of untreated urban waste water from  cities  is discharged directly into canals and rivers . In addition,  a large amount of  waste water from industries and craft villages is also a great pressure on the water environment.

In the Southern (especially in the Southeast region), surface water pollution is mainly caused by the industrial and domestic wastewater. River system in the Mekong Delta  receives the largest amount of agricultural wastewater in the country (70% fertilizer is absorbed by plants and soil, rest of 30% goes  into the streams ). So in this area,  organic pollution is significant.

Thus, it can be seen that water pollution in Vietnam is  increasing at  alarming level , and is becoming  a great pressure  to the country .

According to the Department of Water Resources Management (MONRE), the causes of uncontrollable  waste water discharge is due to the insufficient  facilities, while quantity of waste water is too much; the water treatment systems are dispersed  poor capacities/ Most of  urban areas t do not have waste water treatment systems.

Many urban and residential areas have no  a maste plan for sewage system consistent with the social economic plans so there is no space for  constructing  d wastewater treatment systems. Besides, the investment in the construction and operation of wastewater treatment systems spend a lot of money ; Community awareness  to the  law  is low, while violation sanction is not strictly implemented or related to social issues..

  1. The wastewater and water pollution management policy in Vietnam

2.1. Legislation

Vietnam's government has currently enacted legislation to strengthen water pollution control, such as the Law on Water Resources (2012), the Law on Environmental Protection (2014), the Decree on the Regulation detailing of some articles of the Law on water resources (2013), Circular on Regulation to assess the assimilative capacity of rivers (2009), National technical regulation on surface water quality (2015) and and other related legislations.

The Law on Environmental Protection (2014) contains provisions to protect the environment such as: Regulations of prohibited acts (Article 7 - Chapter 1), including the "prohibit to discharge untreated  waste water into the water sources"; The State policies on environmental protection (Article 5 - Chapter 1) as strengthening propaganda and education, science and technology development, preferential financing, expanding international cooperation, create favorable conditions for organizations and individuals, households participating in the environmental protection; supervising the implementation of environmental protection activities in accordance with law; Regulation on waste management (Chapter IX); Regulation of the responsibilities of the State management agency on environmental protection, environmental protection power (Chapter IX); Provisions on inspection, and handling of violations, settlement of disputes, complaints and denunciations on the environment (Chapter XVIII).

Law on Water Resources (2012) contains provisions on Water resources protection (Chapter III), including: Article 37 regulates “wastewater discharge  into water sources must be granted discharge license by the competent authorities (except the organizations and individuals discharge small waste water amount and do not contain harmful chemicals)”; Article 38 regulates "Rights and obligations of organizations and individuals who were granted licensed to discharge waste water into water sources": must ensure wastewater treatment standards before discharging into water sources; monitoring wastewater quality and quantity regularly; must pay compensation if discharge unlawfully waste water and perform some other obligations prescribed by law.

Circular 02/2009 / TT-BTNMT signed on 19/3/2009 of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment regulates the common principles and procedures, evaluation methods the assimilative capacity of river. Application objects are water resource management agencies, organizations and individuals that discharge waste water into water sources, consulting agencies.

The National technical regulation on surface water quality for domestic, agriculture and industry purposes. If wastewater quality does not meet  the national standards,  it is considered that  violation of the regulation happens.

2.2. Law enforcement of the State management agency

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) has the task of performing the function of the inspection and monitoring water environment, of which 2 primarily responsible units are Vietnam Emvironment Administration (VEA) and Department of Water Resource Management (DWRM).

In recent times, the MoNRE has strengthened the inspection and monitoring, focus on the industrial clusters and  the production facilities. The Ministry also collaborates with the Environmental Police to detect, publicize and handle violations, enhance  automatically monitoring and mobilize the participation of local communities and

          For the new and current industrial parks, authorities control strictly, prohibits operation if its wastewater treatment systems do not work.

In addition,  MoNRE  also identifying the water river quality targets, and forming the river basin organizations to coordinate and supervise  the water protection activities in   whole river basins.

Along with that, MoNRE will revise provisions of sanction towards increased levels to ensure that the sanctions are strong enough, to prevent the  water pollution status

  1. The wastewater and water pollution management policy in Bac Giang province

Thuong River belongs to Red river system, flows through Bac Giang province, is the main source of water for almost purposes of Bac Giang such as domestic, agriculture and industry. According to reports on Planning allocation and protection of water resources in Bac Giang province, there are 440 water exploitation works and 946 facilities discharge wastewater into Thuong River.

As the plan to 2025, Bac Giang will develop the urban area, industry and service - the sectors with a high proportion of water use. Therefore, the wastewater is also increasing and affect to water quality of Thuong river.

Coping with a complecated increase of the environmental pollution, Bac Giang provincial Government issued: the Directive on strengthening the environmental protection and management, Planning of environmental monitoring networks, Design of environmental monitoring plan, Plan of water resources allocation and protection.

Besides, the management and monitoring activities also are deploped as: Identifying environmental protection is the responsibility of entire  political system. These activities must be paid attention in  the socio-economic development; The environmental protection work  must  be implemented  from the planning stages until project approval; Proactively preventing and minimizing   impacts on the environment; Monitoring, inspecting regularly the business facilities for the observance of the Law on environmental protection, strictly handle violations. The organizations and individuals discharge waste to environmental must allocate budget for  wastewater treatment, and  pay  all adequate environmental protection fees as prescribed.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Bac Giang province is also strengthening the state management capacity on environmental protection and gradually concretizing mechanisms and policies on environmental protection in the province.

  1. Asssessing the implementation of policies on management and supervision of waste water discharge into water sources and water resources protection

4.1. Achievements

The environmental inspection and supervision  activities have been implemented ed more often than before. The handling of violations of wastewater discharge facilities is more efficiently and progressively effective in preventing the recurrence of violations.

The quantity and quality of environmental officers  from provincial to National level is gradually  improved.

The  policy and legislation system are  gradually strengthened and they are having  the positive effects, contributing significantly to the state environment management

4.2. Challenges

It can seen that the Law on Environment Protection, the Law on Water Resources and other policies to protect  water resources have been enacted and implemented from the provincial to National level for many years, but water pollution problems still tend increasingly aggravated.

- In terms of policy:

The Laws   are  a  frame with the nature-oriented articls and clauses, while water pollution treatment needs the specific measures, which require stronger  sanctions as well as huge financial resources.

Articles related to water pollution control  scatter in the Laws  and are difficult to enforcement. Some policies  are  inconsistent with the actual situation. The Legal mechanisms for solving  the environmental pollution in craft villages and polluted areas are not appropriate. Budget  for environmental protection activities is limited.

- In terms of the State management:

The water pollution control is  overlapping because there are a lot of Ministries involved, such as the Ministry of Construction is responsible for urban water supply and drainage; MonRE has the State manage on water resource; The Ministry of  Health’s  responsibility is to issue the national water quality standards for domestic water uses;, The Ministry of  Industry and Trade manages the production facilities that  also are the sources of waste water discharge.

The inspection to   enterprises is overlaped by  the Environmental police and the environmental authorities at all levels, resulting in inconvenience to the enterprises.

The structure of state management agencies on environment at all levels is not complete. The technical staff of the agencies are insufficient and their working capacity  is weak , . Equipment is poor in both quantity and quality that do not meet the technical requirements.

 - In terms of participation of the community::

Awareness of people is weak, especially in rural areas and mountainous areas.

People lack of information, lack of understanding of the negative effects on the environment caused by the discharge of wastewater.

 In addition, there are many facilities and enterprises that want to have  immediate high benefits  then still discharge  wastewater which does not meet the national standards into the environment .

  1. 5. Policy proposals

Policy 1: Raising the awareness of people  and community involvement

The Government should enact policies to raise awareness for people to help them understand knowledges on the environment and environmental protection, policies to promote community participation in environmental protection, to have serious sanctions to any  violations. It is required  to develop a reasonable schedule and financial investments as well as to increase the efficiency of communication.

Policy 2: Improving the State management effectiveness and efficiency to  the wastewater discharge activities into water sources".

- Strengthening capacity for  the state management staff.

+ Recruitment: people who have expertise, good qualifications, high responsibility  good ethics and experience should be mobilized.

+ Capacity building: regular training and retraining for  the staff should be implemented to enhance  their capability to ensure effective implementation of the functions assigned. An appropriate training schedule should be developed; Evaluation to the  training eficiency is based on positive changes of their work.

+ It is required  to built a good staffs who have good nature  and  knowledge regarding the legal issues  to solve specific actual situations for controlling activities of discharging waste water into water sources.

+ Regular training on implemention  of the Environmental Protection Law and other legal documents related to  the Law implementation for local authorities and enterprises; promoting the environmental communication under  various forms  step by step to  raise awareness of  the community levels about environmental protection.

- Completing organizational structure for environmental protection from the local to National levels.

Specialized inspection functions for the Departments of Environmental Protection should be amended.  Financial mechansim for,  the environmental management at  district and commune levels should be revised to meet the management requirements.

- Developing tools to support the management of waste water discharge into water sources.

Enacting a new Circular to guide assessment of the assimilative capacity of river by mathematical models instead of  Circular 2009 (calculated by using outdated formulae ).

- Tightening the inspection and management of wastewater discharge activities; Licensing  discharge permits for  localities at all levels from commune, district, city, province.

- Promoting the participation  of the communities in the contaminated region to monitor and timely identify  the facilities causing water pollution

- Implementing  strong sanctions.

Policy 3: Policy on "Strengthening investigation and monitoring wastewater discharge activities.

 All facilities are requied to  install monitoring systems to supervise  load and quality of wastewater

  1. Policy statement made by stakeholders

The Government should direct the Ministries, agencies and the media across the country to implement awareness improvement program for the government staff  and communities.

The Ministry of  Training & Education should  integrate e the knowledge of environmental protection into the training and educational curricula.  c.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should implement: (i) Capacity building program for staff of the MoNRE; (ii) Organization of  training programs for officials at provincial, district and commune on the enforcement of legal documents  as well as technical  knowledge; (iii) Provision of  technical tools to support decision making on environtment management and protection; (iv)  Inspection of the law enforcement to  wastewater discharge facilities.




  1. Circular 02/2009/TT-BTNMT Regulate the assessment of assimilative capacity of river.
  2. Decree on the Regulation detailing of some articles of the Law on water resources (2013).
  3. Law on water resources (2012).
  4. Law on Environment protection (2014).
  5. National technical regulation on surface water quality (2015).
  6. Report on Environmental Status of Bac Giang province in the period of 2011 - 2015.