Water efficiency, Austrian style

November 08, 2021 | 12:30
(0) user say
Austria, with its extremely high innovative potential, is one of the leading countries in green technology. Commercial counsellor at the Austrian Embassy Dietmar Schwank talked with VIR’s Quynh Chau on how Vietnam can benefit from working closely with Austria in both sustainable water management and resource efficiency.

What is Austria’s role in tackling the environmental concerns related to water?

Commercial counsellor at the Austrian Embassy Dietmar Schwank
Commercial counsellor at the Austrian Embassy Dietmar Schwank

Water is the most valuable resource in the world. Two-thirds of the earth is covered with water, but only 0.3 per cent of it is drinking water. Climate change and rapid global population growth are causing ever greater water shortages.

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2021 speaks for itself: despite its scarcity, water continues to be polluted and wasted in many regions, including Vietnam. In addition, wastewater is often discharged back into nature following little to no treatment. On top of this, global water consumption is constantly rising – water scarcity continues to increase.

Austria is one of the countries with the most water resources in Europe. It is committed that these resources, and those elsewhere in the world, are protected so that future generations will still be able to use them. What is needed are sustainable solutions for managing water to protect the environment from further pollution and to provide drinking water to as many people as possible. Not only do we need to raise awareness around the world, but technical solutions and a high level of expertise are also needed now more than ever – and these are offered by companies from Austria.

Which challenges is Vietnam exposed to when it comes to water quality and water resources?

Vietnam’s rapid development is largely based on the utilisation of agricultural land and advancing industrialisation. Associated with this are various environmental problems, many of them related to water. Vietnam’s water quality has suffered in recent years and the need for drinking water treatment as well as industrial and municipal wastewater treatment has increased significantly.

In addition, Vietnam will be one of the countries most affected by climate change over the next decades. Irregular monsoon rains lead to local flooding in some regions, and insufficient amounts of water and drought in others - in spite of Vietnam’s abundant water resources. Another challenge is the rising sea level, which threatens entire stretches of coastal land and delta regions, also affecting the water supply and agricultural output.

Furthermore, due to inadequate infrastructure, water demand in Vietnam cannot be fully met. There is a lack of water supply, and leakage persists in the pipeline grid. Contaminated and polluted water is also a major concern. So is the depletion of groundwater, which, together with unsustainable urban development, leads to land subsidence – for example in Ho Chi Minh City, which is at a current rate of 4cm per year. There is a need to improve piping, pumping stations, levees, dams, water reservoirs, and tide gates.

Austrian group STRABAG has built a water treatment plant in Vietnam
Austrian group STRABAG has built a water treatment plant in Vietnam

What can Austria contribute to Vietnam’s water sector?

The Vietnamese government has acknowledged the need to make improvements in the water sector, which will be crucial for a green and circular economy.

In this process, Austria stands ready to offer expertise, technology, and project financing. There is great potential for Vietnam to cooperate with Austria on an administrative level, for example in water recycling, sustainable urban and river water management, as well as on a business and technology level.

Austrian technology companies offer a wide range of services for the processing of industrial water, such as filtration of particles from wastewater or high-sensitive processing of water for use in the electronics, food and pharmaceutical industries. In addition, Austria has vast expertise in desalination, water-efficient irrigation, sludge treatment, water monitoring, and other solutions for rural areas.

Many Austrian companies are already active in Vietnam. For example, BWT Group is the premium market leader in water filtration solutions; in Hanoi, STRABAG has built a large turnkey water treatment plant at the Duong River, which daily feeds up to 300,000 cubic metres of drinking water into the municipal water grid; and ANDRITZ regularly supplies pumps for urban water networks as well as hydropower equipment.

Austria continues to be a preferred partner of Vietnam when it comes to the management, treatment, and recycling of water.

By Quynh Chau

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional