Law enforcement : Monitoring Systems :: Vietnam
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Law enforcement Monitoring Systems: Viet Nam

Water quality monitoring systems

The existing information and reporting system in Viet Nam comprises of a national network of environmental monitoring stations, as well as provincial level environmental monitoring (Box 10).

Box 1. Viet Nam’s Environmental Monitoring System

The national Environmental Monitoring Network, managed by NEA of MOSTE, was established at the end of 1994. `By 2002, the network had expanded to 21 stations, which carry out monitoring at 250 locations in 45 provinces. These locations include environmental hotspots such as industrial zones, large cities, and environmentally sensitive ecological regions.

The parameters monitored are basic quality parameters for air, water, land, coastal environment, solid waste, noise, acid deposition, radioactivity and indoor working environment. Up to 2000 the monitoring frequency had been 4 times a year. In 2001 this was increased to 6 times per year.

During 1994 – 2002 NEA under MOSTE collected data from monitoring stations, DOSTEs and other ministries and produces a series of State of Environment (SOE) Reports every year according to the requirements of the government. With the establishment of MONRE the responsibility of producing SOE reports now lies with the Department of Environment and data collection is a mandate of the Office of Data and Information under VEPA.

Monitoring of the water resources involves a number of ministries and agencies. The Hydro-meteorological Services, which has recently become the National Center of Hydrology and Meteorology of MONRE, maintains a network of 232 hydrological monitoring stations. The responsibility for processing data lies with nine hydrometeorological regional centers.

Groundwater monitoring is the responsibility of the Agency of Geology and Minerals (transferred from MOI to MONRE in January 2003) that maintains a National Groundwater Monitoring Network with 310 regional monitoring stations and more than 600 observation wells across Viet Nam.

The Department of Water Resources and Hydraulic Works management (responsibility of water resources management transferred from MARD to MONRE in June 2003) has the mandate to monitor both surface and ground waters. MOFish is monitoring water quality in aquacultural areas and MOH is responsible for monitoring quality of drinking water.

A “Plan for the National Network of Monitoring Stations to Year 2010” has been submitted by MONRE to GoV for approval (Table 23). The MONRE plan envisages a gradual increase in the number of monitoring sites and sampling frequency, and calls for a substantial increase of GoV investments and operational costs over the planning period. The plan implies a gradual increase of the Stations/ Centers to 61 including 15 DONREs and a gradual increase of the sampling frequency and the number of monitoring sites.

Box 2. Donor support for improving Monitoring and Information

Initiatives are taken to establish systems for data and information management. AusAID is supporting establishing a National Water Resources Database System and DANIDA is launching an Environmental Information and Reporting project. Both projects will support environmental and water resource management and decision taking based on the best possible knowledge.


Table : Plan for Expansion of the National Environmental Monitoring Network 2001-2005
Type of stations/centers Existing Envisaged by 2005
Regional inland stations 3 3
Regional coastal/sea stations 5 6
Specialized stations 12 15
Laboratories 1 3
 Local stations (DONREs) 15
Total 21 42
Source: Viet Nam Environment Monitor 2003 – Water.http:/ – 2003/Index.htm

Monitoring water quality in Viet Nam

1. Present conditions of surfacial water quality measurement system in Viet Nam.

The measurement system of surfacial water (rivers, ponds and lakes) in Viet Nam was relatively and early established and continuously improved. Its measuring - site network closely attached to hydrographic gauging stations was distributed mainly on major river with economic values (Thai Binh, Red River, Mekong ...system). Now, a system including 45 gauging - stations are put into operation of monitoring of river water quality while another one for environment quality of reservoir area. Monitoring operates upon a periodic schedule – once monthly. Apart from observation of factors such as water temperature, pH, turbidity, water sampling is carried out for analysis of criteria such as total ferrous quantity, SiO2, Ca+2, Mg+2, Na+, K+, SO4 -2, Cl, HCO3 ions.

Generally, monitoring criteria do not allow appreciation of any accommodation and economic activity impact level on water quality (especially industrial waste water). Though recently a water quality monitoring system is improved with attention paid for waste water process impact, as equipment and machinery are limited yet, it only is limited to determination of durable criteria, easy - to - change criteria which feature the impact level of collection process of accommodation and economic activity waste water such as: BOD, COD, DO, NH4 +, NO2...There are some heavy metals only being to be determined during periodic surveys viewing detailing water environment quality at macro level.

2. The urgency and the main tasks of surfacial water quality-monitoring system:

Viet Nam is a developing country experienced years of destruction war where environment is subject to hand impacts: cut and destroyed fields, aim basins and sea/land/ air resources subject to regression and heavy pressure of population increase. Environmental resources are appealing to rescue. The proposed issue is to proceed immediately to appropriate measures to put up a sustainable development at the country.

The 1991 - 2000 environmental protection programme clearly express that it would be necessary to have actual actions to solve at root the county environmental problems in the 10 forth coming years such as an appropriate organizational structure, issuance of an environmental legal system, priority projects for environmental protection, establishment of procedures of evaluation of environment effects and an environmental quality monitoring system...”

Started from above objectives, the improvement and continuous development of a surfacial water quality monitoring system means a not to be omitted in the country sustainable development. Through monitoring data, we observe that our surfacial water quality is relatively good and quantitatively abundant. Water impurity pollution appears but of level character. Only in Viet Tri area, annually a mass of tens millions m³ of waste water is directly discharged into Red River together with tens thousands of tons salt, heavy metals, organic compounds, insecticides ...We lowered the water quality in a relatively lengthen river particularly in spent season. We need an adequate surfacial water quality monitoring in order to sustain water quality in a continuously developing economy. The basic objective of surfacial water quality monitoring system is to collect accurate information on water quality, timely inform such data to any water user and proceed immediately necessary measures to protect as well as use in a reasonable way the water resources. It includes:

  • Monitoring and control of water environment dirt pollution according to physico-chemico-biological criteria.
  • Study of distribution and change rules of impurity in water environment (rivers, lakes and ponds) as basis for water quality forecast in case of waste mix.
  • Study of substance transport rules across estuaries and dams as basis for determination of substance quality equilibrium in the river and lake system.
  • Study and appreciation of impact in any development project on water quality (particularly for projects for construction of water rising dams, reservoirs, and big industrial areas...)

Orientation and main task of surfacial water quality-monitoring system:

1. Network on-line measurement

Step by step consolidating the basic investigation network for surfacial water quality in country wide, regularizing site gauging - station system, strict performance of sampling process, maintenance and timely analysis and information to any water user information on water quality.

Organizing gauging and analysis of some specific criteria of impurity - pollution such as: pH, DO, BOD, COD, Coliform in valuable sites in respect of water use.

Primarily controlling impurity - pollution sources such as wastewater of more than 500,000 - population cities, waste water from major industrial areas and from agricultural production areas.

For hydrographic - meteorological stations, an adequate structure shall be established to deal with water enlivenment management and control. Ahead emphasis should be done on environment quality basic investigation. It would be necessary to investigate the major elements affecting the change of water quality within an area (according to administrative boundaries), to have statistics of main waste sources such as fertilizer, insecticides and other chemical used in the areas, distribution of industrial economies with waste water and solid waste directly affecting water quality, and indicate the areas with risk of water quality lowering and timely inform the dangerous signs affecting water quality (oil spill, over emission of toxicant ....) to managerial agencies and organize coordinated survey and timely inform to water user environment due to factories/enterprises accidents…) and timely informing such data to any water user and competent authorities for timely measures and minimizing subsequent damages.

2. Investigation and survey:

Investigation and survey of water quality means a component in the basic water quality investigation system. Its main task is to detail water quality in an area where a fixed gauging station system may not deal with. Therefore, investigation and survey shall reach the following objectives:

Investigation and statistic inventory of sources of water (quantity, physico-chemico-biological composition of waste water, discharge system…) from some major sources of waste, their distribution in the space and according to time, as basis for improvement of water quality monitoring system with taking into account human activities.

Survey and measurement of water environment quality in cities, industrial areas, cities areas for detailing oil spill even, over emission of toxicants in water environment due to factories/enterprises accidents…) and timely informing such data to any water user and competent authorities for timely measures and minimizing subsequent damages.

Source: Monitoring water quality and modeling in Viet Nam Dr. Vu Van Hieu
National Institute for Urban and Rural Planning - MOC

Development of a Water Quality Management Information System for MARD

In the language of strategic planning (Wiebe et al., 1994), water quality management decisions (i.e. objectives, choice of policies, programmes, and projects) should be made based on adequate information about (a) driving forces, (b) current strengths and weaknesses; and (c) future opportunities and threats.

Beginning to generate this type of information base is one of the tasks that to be addressed by TA-2. The project terms of reference refer to this activity as “environmental monitoring,” but in practice this tended to be interpreted as referring to “water quality monitoring,” and more specifically “aquatic chemistry,” possibly because a key element of the project work plan involved designing and setting up what was understood to be an aquatic chemistry laboratory. As the work progressed, however, three things became clear:

  1. For some applications, alternatives to traditional laboratory-based aquatic chemistry monitoring are increasingly being recognized as more efficient and effective, for a number of reasons (Ongley, 1995). Alternatives to lab-based aquatic chemistry include (i) different kinds of measurements of different kinds of materials, such as ecological/biodiversity, toxicity/effects, bioassay, and sediment measurements; and (ii) different methods for data collection and analysis, such as the use of portable field water sample analysis kits and participatory monitoring wherein local people make and report simple, relevant measurements themselves.
  2. Monitoring needs to be flexible and creative - a programme of ambient water quality sampling at set stations and time intervals “forever” is not necessarily most effective and efficient way to generate the specific information needed by water quality managers. Adjuncts to ongoing static monitoring data accumulation include short, intense environmental surveys (as in out surveys of two irrigation schemes); increased emphasis on different types of data (e.g. land use, discharge inventories, public health and other effects, performance of alternative management practices); greatly increased emphasis on data analysis and interpretation; and a shift to a more consciously cost-benefit-oriented perspective.
  3. For the overall information system to be efficient and effective, it must be based on an explicit identification of what questions the assembled information is to answer, who is asking these questions (who is the audience for the answers? what information can they understand and use?), and how to present and distribute the information so that it is understood and used (Ward, 1994).

The work of TA-2 now will be to translate these principles into a plan for the development over the coming few years of MARD’s water quality management information system.

Source: Water quality management in Viet Nam
Dr. Sara L. Bennett, Environment Specialist, Water Environment International/nhc, Canada
Mr. Nguyen Thai Lai, Head, Bureau for Water Environment Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam