Reusing wastewater as a key solution to problems of water scarcity

Viet Nam has the potential to apply new technologies and resort to reusing wastewater as a key solution to problems of water scarcity and pollution, experts said at a workshop yesterday.

They said that this was particularly important in the context of climate change, with Viet Nam said to be one of the countries that would experience the worst impacts of the phenomenon.

A pilot project to create a scheme of sustainable water resource management and wastewater reuse has been started by the HCM City University of Technology (HCMUT), Thailand-based Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Institute National des Sciences Appliques (INSA) in France.

“Our focus is developing membrane-based wastewater reuse activities in Viet Nam,” Prof. Visvanathan, a membrane technology expert from AIT and project coordinator, said at yesterday’s workshop and training programme in HCM City. The workshop was a knowledge sharing activity under the project that began implementation next April.

Visvanathan said that one of the prime objectives of this joint industry-academia project was to develop local technical and research skills to promote membrane-based wastewater reuse activities in the country.

According to a paper co-authored by Visvanathan, the basic underlying principle in membrane technology is “forced selective passage of solute or solvents through special membranes, resulting in separation of individual constituents in the influent.

“Based on the membrane type, operating conditions, degree of separation desired, type of pollutants, various techniques such as reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, microfiltration and so on have been developed.”

The project will set up a membrane-based wastewater treatment unit at the Le Minh Xuan Industrial Park in HCM City. Field data is being collected to identify the wastewater reusability potential in the region.

This was an emerging technology for industrial wastewater reuse activities, because of its performance consistency, experts said at the workshop. Apart from higher performance, the compact system has greater potential in terms of saving space in industrial parks where every inch of land is valuable.

The project would not only facilitate technology transfer but also greater interaction between local stakeholders and national government authorities, they said.

“The potential for membrane technology application in industrial wastewater reuse activities is very high in Viet Nam,” said Prof. Nguyen Phuoc Dan, Dean of Faculty of Environment, HCMUT.

Government officials, researchers, industrial activists and environmentalists are attending the workshop and training programme, which closes today.

The project has brought out “very good results” with the treated wastewater from Le Minh Xuan Industrial Park, one of the most polluted zones in HCM City now available for use to water trees and clean roads, said Dr. Bui Xuan Thanh of HCMUT.

While the initial investment in this technology was higher than usual, it carried less operational costs, used half the land for construction, was easy to upgrade and turned out water of much better quality, he said.

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