Road projects churn up Vietnam’s once 'poetic' Perfume River

By Vo Thanh   September 20, 2016 | 07:56 pm PT
Road projects churn up Vietnam’s once 'poetic' Perfume River
No cruise ships are seen along the now brownish Perfume River in Hue. Photo by Vo Thanh/VnExpress
Tourists are turning away from the muddy waters, and the situation is likely to get worse.

Road projects along the Perfume River have caused the icon of the ancient town of Hue to lose its attractive crystal turquoise color and turn a reddish brown in recent days.

Many tourists to Hue, one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam, have been turned off by the sight of the river over the past week as the water has darkened with a strong alluvial color.

Cruise ships operators along the river said they have had a difficult time attracting customers as the river, known as Huong in Vietnamese, no longer looks so poetic.

Nguyen Van Binh, a boat owner, said he has not had any customers for days.

The water company in Thua Thien-Hue Province has had to increase the use of chemicals to purify the water before pumping it to local families.

Nguyen Thi Huong, a 43-year-old local, said the river has never been so dark for so long.

Huong said flood water from the upstream turns the water brown once in a while, but it usually takes only a couple of days to clear again.

Tran Viet Hung, head of the environment protection unit at Thua Thien-Hue Province’s Environment Department, said two road projects further upstream were the cause of the problem, but erosion from recent typhoons is also a factor.

Hung said the situation will last for some time and could become worse because the road projects have only just started and the worst rainy days in Hue are still ahead.

The department has asked the Environment Ministry to increase supervision on the projects to limit their impacts on the river.

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