Workshop on Integrated water resources management: collection of ideas to complete the two guidebooks on application of the legal regulations in water resources sector

Originating from the practical requirements in water resources management as well as the application and compliance with the regulations on water resources of water users in the area, Soc Trang DONRE has proposed to compile two Guidebooks: Guidebook on water resources management for local authorities and Guidebook on application of the legal regulations on water resources exploitation, use and protection for enterprises and companies. The Project “Improvement of Groundwater Protection in Vietnam” (IGPVN) has collaborated with the drafting team of Water Resources – Mineral Resources – Hydrometeorology Subdepartment of Soc Trang DONRE to compile these two Guidebooks. In order to improve the content of the two Guidebooks, on May 30th and 31st, 2017, the IGPVN in collaboration with Soc Trang DONRE and NAWAPI held a Workshop on Integrated Water Resources Management with the topic: “Collection of ideas to complete the two guidebooks on application of the legal regulations in water resources sector in Soc Trang Province”.

More than 60 representatives from different levels of water management agencies, some enterprises and companies in Soc Trang Province, Soc Trang Water Supply Company Limited, Soc Trang Center for Rural Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation and neighboring DONREs including Bac Lieu, Ben Tre, Ca Mau attended the workshop. Mr. Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent expert on Mekong Delta ecosystem, was facilitating the workshop.

Mr. Florian Jenn – IGPVN Acting Project Leader – giving opening speech at the Workshop

On the first working day, on behalf of the drafting team, Mr. Dong Thong Nhat – Head of the Water Resources – Mineral Resources – Hydrometeorology Subdepartment of Soc Trang DONRE summarized the process of compiling the two Guidebooks and briefly described the structures and contents of the two Guidebooks. The team has completed a 7-chapter Guidebook for authorities and a 10-chapter Guidebook for enterprise. In essence, this drafting work consisted of collecting issues and information of interest from the currently enforced legal regulations promulgated at the central level and in Soc Trang Province; arranging and  presenting in a suitable order for reference and application.

The facilitator dividing groups of participants and assigning tasks for each group

Under the guidance of the facilitator, the participants at the workshop were divided into 8 groups to discuss and comment on the chapters of the Guidebooks according to the following criteria: (i) structure, ii) legal basis, (iii) drafting content, (iv) possibility to apply the documents, look up information, (v) other comments. Members of each group included water management officials and representatives from water users. Each group was assigned to study and comment on three chapters; in addition, any comment on the remaining contents was very welcome.

After a half-day studying the contents of the Guidebooks and discussing them, a representative of each group presented their comments and suggestions to all the participants. In general, the comments of all the groups were quite focused and addressed the criteria described above. As a result, the structure of the Guidebook for local authorities should be reconsidered and a chapter on “Advice on the issuance of local legal documents on water resources sector” should be added, because this is an important task in water resources management in the Province. The Guidebook for Enterprises should be supplemented with an appendix containing registration forms, reporting tables and detailed guidelines on some issues which the enterprise must comply with (for example: water level monitoring, water quality monitoring…). The workshop participants agreed that the drafting team would revise the Guidebook manuscripts according to the comments and send it back to all the participants via email for final comments.

Group working on the 1st day

On the second working day was dedicated to information sharing on the current status of water resources use and management among stakeholders; and to apply the two Guidebooks for problem solving.

Seven problems related to water resources management, exploitation and use were raised for discussion and solution groups.

Four presentations by different stakeholders at the Workshop brought a lot of interesting insights. Information shared by Bac Lieu DONRE showed that the capacity of domestic water supply in the Province was very limited so the spontaneous exploitation of groundwater was very common, leading to many problems. Over-exploitation of groundwater is also an ongoing situation in Vinh Chau District, Soc Trang Province. Here, the exploitation of groundwater for aquaculture not only dramatically decreased the groundwater level but also polluted the environment due to untreated waste water from aquaculture. It is clear that only good water resources management can help to address these issues.

The state-owned enterprise, Soc Trang Water Supply Company Limited has correct orientations in the context of climate change and water resources has many negative changes: using more surface water from rivers and canals; investing in the construction of large-capacity reservoirs to ensure the capacity of the water supply plants; alternatively exploiting water from the production wells to increase the restoration of groundwater level and to limit salinity intrusion; investing in water treatment technologies to treat the input water effectively.

Soc Trang Center for Rural Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation is a public career-oriented unit under the management of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. As directly assigned by the Provincial People’s Committee, this Center manages and operates rural water supply facilities which mainly exploit groundwater from Pleistocene and partly from Miocene aquifers. In general, this Center has many difficulties and constraints in ensuring rural water supply: entirely relying on groundwater resources, insufficient capacity on nonrevenue water control and infrastructure network installation.

The question is whether it is necessary to unify domestic water supply in the Province instead of dividing into two parts of urban water supply and rural water supply like now?

Dr. Hoang Thi Hanh – IGPVN hydrogeologist – proposing recommendations and solutions for water resources management in Soc Trang

In the presentation on Recommendations and solutions for groundwater management in Soc Trang Province, IGPVN expert – Dr. Hoang Thi Hanh – has highlighted the role of water resources planning in water resources management and the proper orientation in management and exploitation of fresh and saline aquifers. It is important to understand that water resources management does not mean using administrative orders to prohibit, but must ensure the needs for water of stakeholders, of which the priority is domestic water. A water supply model has been proposed which can allocate responsibilities to the parties, help ensure the quality and quantity of water supplied and stabilize water price. Accordingly, water treatment plants have the responsibility to exploit water according to current regulations, invest in water treatment technologies to meet domestic water standards and sell output water to a clean water trading company. This company is then responsible for investing in installation of water supply pipelines and hydrometers and for fixing the price of clean water sold to the community. Water treatment plants may enjoy preferential loans, natural resources tax reductions; Clean water companies can enjoy corporate income tax reductions. Rainwater collection models are also encouraged to be widely used to help people utilize rainwater and reduce the cost of living when using tap water. In addition, a solution for salty/brackish water distillation system using solar energy was proposed to help provide drinking water to people during droughts and water scarcity. The objective of water resources management is rational exploitation, effective use and sustainable development of water resources.

This IWRM Workshop was a success both for improving the Guidebooks and to address current water resources management issues. After the two Guidebooks are completed, they will be widely disseminated to local water managers at all levels and enterprises exploiting and using water in Soc Trang Province. These Guidebooks are also suitable for reference and use in other Provinces.

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