HealthNature / Wildlife

Nam Xong River Waste Dumping Has Decreased After Backpacker Parties Shut Down

The amount of garbage in the Nam Xong River has dropped from 70 tonnes to 40 tonnes this year after the government closed down backpacker parties along river in 2012.

But the release of waste water into the river remains a problem as authorities are working hard to keep the river clear and clean enough for swimming and bathing, according to Manger of the Vangvieng Office of Natural Resources and Environment (VVONRE) Mr Meechai Thuntavong.

Mr Meechai said each year a round 70-80 tonnes of rubbish were dumped into the river from tourist parties with both domestic and foreign tourists not properly disposing of food packaging and bottles.

Mr Yao, a resident who takes his son to bathe in the river, said he felt the river was cleaner now than it was two years ago.

“Last year I saw garbage in the river but I had to swim in it because my village has no well,” he said.

He said he was told not to throw garbage in the river but he saw some restaurants along the riverbank continuing to do so.

“Of course I throw all my rubbish in garbage bins as I know it would affect the river and lead to me developing skin disease if I swam in it every day, the authorities from the Natural Resources and Environment told me.”

Each week a rubbish truck comes through Mr Yao’s community to pick up waste.

Mr Meechai said authorities have informed restaurants owners to follow the district’s rule.

If they are caught releasing waste water and garbage into the river they will be fined 500,000 kip, he said.

It is sometimes difficult for authorities to carry out frequent inspections so business owners have opportunities to break the rules.

Authorities recheck restaurants and families that release waste water into the river if impacted residents inform them of bad smells near their houses.

Mr Meechai said in 2012 VVONRE was supported by Lao-Thai-German trilateral cooperation on a Nam Xong sub-River basic management project that encouraged local authorities and community members to strengthen capacity in integrated basic river management, develop practical water protection regulations and focus on community awareness and local participation.

“Now the project has finished, VVONRE would like to continue cooperating with concerned authorities to encourage restaurants and local people to learn to conduct waste water treatment before releasing it into the river, as well as garbage management to ensure Nam Xong is clean for swimming,” Mr Meechai said.

Source: Vientiane Times