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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oarfish caught by US Navy seals in Coronado, California (1996)

Attapeu seeks solutions to polluted river (Vientiane Times, 7 Dec 2010)

Vientiane Times, Tuesday 7 December 2010
Attapeu seeks solutions to polluted river
Provincial environmental officials have sought guidance in dealing with the problem of contaminated water in the Xekhamane River in Attapeu province, which began two years ago.
Head of the provincial Water Resource and Environment Office, Mr Navalath Nouanthong, told the Vientiane Times yesterday that last week his department submitted a letter to the provincial authorities to seek guidance and approval for talks with the provincial government bodies involved.
At least 10 villages in Xaysettha and Samakhixay districts, whose daily water consumption is dependent on the river, are suffering from mud-contaminated water. The problem has been going on for two years and is believed to be caused by development projects in the area.
Once approved, the meeting will bring together the department and the public works and transport, health, and agricultural sectors.
The meeting will outline solutions for introducing new water sources so local people have access to cleaner water.
“We need to identify exactly how many families are affected, what sort of water sources can be introduced, and what is the required budget,” Mr Navalath said.
The officials intend to negotiate with the development projects involved to seek a financial contribution to the solution package.
The Xekhamane I and III hydropower projects in neighbouring Xekong province, as well as gold mining along the river are among the projects contributing to pollution of the river.
A technical team has tested samples of the mud-contaminated water and has identified the proportion of pollution each project has contributed, he said.
Mr Navalath said building artesian wells, wells, and gravity-fed water systems could be the best way to provide affected people with clean water.
In negotiating with development project operators, the officials hope to convince them to contribute to the cost of installing these facilities.
It is impractical to bring the projects to a halt, but Mr Navalath reiterated that all stakeholders should join hands to tackle the problems they caused.
It is apparent that work to install new water sources is taking longer than expected. Mr Navalath told the Vientiane Times in August that affected families would have clean water on tap by the end of the rainy season in October.
Mr Navalath was unable to say exactly when the meeting would be held, but said it would take place shortly after getting the green light.
He admitted that some people were continuing to use the muddy river water for bathing, while others were sharing water from artesian wells in other communities.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update December 07, 2010)