Water hyacinth makes things difficult for Mekong Delta

VietNamNet Bridge – Motor boats and junks get stuck midstream these days in the Vam Co Dong River, due to the dense patches of fast-growing water hyacinth in the polluted waters.

Mekong Delta, Water hyacinth

Dang Quoc Trung, a farmer in the border commune of Thanh Long in Tay Ninh Province, complained that it is now very difficult to row a boat across the river.

Trung said he intended to travel by boat to his rice field on the afternoon of March 20, but it proved impossible. “I could only go a few meters before the boat was blocked by water hyacinth. At that point, all I could do was return home,” he said.

While living in Thanh Long commune, Trung owns rice fields in Tri Binh commune. Carrying the harvested rice from the fields to his home is hard work. He related that, due to the water hyacinths, it once took him the entire day to go to the fields and then return home.

“I was just 20 meters from the shore, but I could not make all the way. I had to wait a whole day on the boat until the water level finally rose, allowing the water hyacinth to drift away,” he said, “One day, I got stuck in midstream and had to spend the entire night on the river.”

Vo Thi Hoi, a small merchant from Dong Thap province who has been trading in Tay Ninh for the last 30 years, complained that she may have to give up her livelihood just because of the invasive species. “We cannot carry goods from Dong Thap to Tay Ninh because the water hyacinth has blocked our way. I have suffered large losses due to late deliveries,” she said.

Tran Thi Tham in Go Dau District complained that her fishing boat has been left ashore for the last several days, because the waterways are impassable. Kiet, her son, said he is going to have to find a new job.

Nguyen Thao, Deputy Chair of Tay Ninh Province, admitted that no proper solution has yet been found despite great efforts by local authorities and people to remove the nuisance plant. Many companies have contracted with the government to remove the water hyacinth over the last three years. However, says Thao, none of them has been able to perform a satisfactory job.

Ever since one of the companies, Thanh Son, gave up on its efforts, the aquatic plant has been growing ever more rapidly, covering the water’s surface, and blocking the region’s key transport waterways.

According to Nguyen Dinh Xua, Director of Tay Ninh’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, water hyacinth thrives in water with high levels of pollution. Xuan said that waste water from starch processing workshops, rubber latex processing factories and households, all discharged into the river, has accelerated the growth rate of the plant.

Xuan said local authorities plan to spend VND2.4 billion – all of the environmental fees collected from the province’s factories last year – on the aquatic plant’s removal.

That said, he cautioned that people also should learn to “live with water hyacinth”, as the species does have one benefit – its roots naturally absorb pollutants. And if it were to be completely eradicated, environmental pollution in the area would be even more severe than it currently is.

Thanh Mai

Mekong Delta, Water hyacinth