HANOI – Hanoi’s iconic Hoàn Kiếm Lake has been severely polluted through the years and must be cleaned to save the threatened living creatures there, experts said.
Hoàng Thị Thu Hương, deputy director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology under the Hà Nội University of Technology, said the lake was contaminated and had lost the ability to clean itself.
The thick mud at the bottom of the lake contains heavy metals and toxic gases, affecting the habitats of creatures, she was quoted as saying by Kinh tế và đô thị (Economic and Urban affairs) newspaper.
The high density of algae means there is not enough oxygen and dredging work is a must to protect the lake’s ecosystem and restore its beauty, she said at a public consultation on the environmental impact assessment report conducted by her institute, co-organised by the Hà Nội Sewage and Drainage Ltd and the People’s Committee of Hoàn Kiếm District.
While most scientists and residents living in the areas around the capital’s central pivot agreed on the need to improve the lake’s water quality, scientists said the environmental improvement plans for the lake should be conducted prudently to redress its pollution while protecting its ecosystem and biodiversity.
Dương Đức Tiến, a biological expert, said the process of rehabilitation and dredging must be carefully considered to make sure it does not badly affect the lake’s habitats.
The types of fish and algae living in the lake mist be catalogued in detail, he added.
Mai Đình Yên, another expert, agreed, saying mud layers should be maintained during the dredging process since it is the habitat for many species.
Nguyễn Ngọc Lý, director of the Centre for Environment and Community Research, proposed that Hoàn Kiếm District set forth regulations to prevent residents from releasing fish into the lake.
“Hoàn Kiếm Lake has many kinds of alien species. Some people even bring sacks of eel and snails to the lake,” she said.
Trịnh Đăng Khoa, who resides on Đinh Tiên Hoàng Street, said that despite efforts in recent years to improve the lake’s water quality, the results did not meet residents’ expectation.
Nguyễn Thị Minh Hà, chairwoman of the Lý Thái Tổ Fatherland Front, stressed the need to raise the awareness of local residents to the lake’s ecosystem protection.
Phan Hoài Minh, Deputy General Director of Hà Nội Sewage and Drainage Ltd, the cleanup project’s investor, said the company will instruct the consultants to review all suggestions, particularly those on biodiversity in the environmental impact assessment.
Once completed, the report will be submitted to the scientific council at ministerial and municipal level for approval.
Covering about 12 ha, Hoàn Kiếm Lake (also known as Returned Sword Lake) is located in the centre of the capital. Apart from its spritual and cultural values, it is considered a scenic venue, a hub for weekend relaxation from the chaos and bustle of the city.