Under the water supply and drainage development plan from 2025 until 2050 approved by the Prime Minister in 2009, 100 percent of industrial zones in Vietnam must have concentrated water treatment plants, or they will have to stop operation.
Meanwhile, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), to date, 127 industrial zones, or 40 percent, still have not built concentrated wastewater treatment systems. These include 50 operational industrial zones that need to build the systems urgently.
Le Duc Bao, General Director of Seen Company, which specializes in providing wastewater treatment plants, said that industrial zones alone let out about one cubic meter of wastewater per day.
“If Vietnam’s industries develop by 15 percent per annum, by 2015, the total wastewater volume of industrial zones would reach two million cubic meter per day. Supposed that it takes about 10-15 million dong to deal with one cubic meter of wastewater, then the total sum of money to treat the wastewater would be huge at 20-30 trillion dong.
Bao stressed that 20-30 trillion dong is the sum of money needed to build concentrated wastewater in industrial zones, not including the expenses to operate the plants, estimated at two trillion dong a year. Therefore, Bao said that this is a big challenge for the developers of industrial zones.
Moving heaven and earth to look for capital
The only capital that industrial zones and enterprises expect is from the state. Under the Prime Minister’s decisions, concentrated wastewater treatment system in industrial zones is listed among the items that can seek capital from the central budget and enjoy investment credit support.
However, industrial zones’ management boards complain that it is very difficult to access the capital sources due to the capital limitation. Meanwhile, it is nearly impossible to access commercial loans for building the treatment systems. Therefore, more than 90 percent of the existing treatment plants have been built with enterprises’ capital.
However, experts say the door to the capital for building wastewater treatment works for industrial zones is still open. Many industrial zones said they successfully borrowed preferential loans from the Vietnam Environment Protection Fund VEPF under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and built treatment plants.
According to Nguyen Nam Phuong, Director of VEPF, 23 industrial zone projects have borrowed 45 percent of the fund’s total capital to build wastewater treatment plants. VEPF is giving financial support to the environment protection activities nationwide at the preferential interest rate of 5.4 percent per annum. Clients can borrow up to 70-75 percent of the total investment capital for 10 years. Especially, funding wastewater treatment projects is the top priority of the fund.
Phuong said that in order to find capital to satisfy the high demand for capital for wastewater treatment in industrial zones, VEPF is building up feasible projects and seeking cooperation with domestic and international organizations.
VEPF is cooperating with the world development organization, Czech Environment Fund and receiving voluntary contributions from the passengers of Jetstar Pacific, who want to contribute to air pollution prevention.
Especially, VEPF is also cooperating with Agribank and Petrolimex’s bank to seek financial support for the projects on environmental protection in Vietnam. The fund has had working sessions with the World Bank, German Hans Seideil Foundation, and Green World to seek opportunities for cooperation.