Wastewater Treatment through Effective Wetland Restoration of That Luang Marsh

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Lao People's Democratic Republic

That Luang Marsh in Lao PDR provides valuable natural resources to thousands of people.
© Noy Promsouvanh / WWF

Summary

This project will examine in detail the issue of wastewater management within Vientiane Capital City and the feasibility of creating a constructed wetland treatment system, within That Luang Marsh, to treat domestic and industrial wastewater whilst maintaining the important functions of flood detention and food web support.

A sustainable urban plan for the area surrounding the marsh and an adaptive management plan for the wetland area will be developed promoting: high environmental standards in urban planning; innovative solutions and best practice guidance for effective treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater through wetland treatment systems; and the management of wetland resources and services to sustain stakeholder livelihoods and alleviate poverty. Key stakeholders such as government implementing agencies, local communities and industry will be engaged to develop management plans through a participatory process.

Background

The capital city of Lao PDR is Vientiane City. It is located in the Mekong Valley and is home to some 200,000 people, with almost three times that number living in entire metropolitan area. The city relies on the natural wetland ecosystem functioning of That Luang Marsh to provide a number of essential key services and resources, including:
- Floodwater storage and protection for approximately 300,000 people.
- Wastewater treatment for approximately 270,000 people.
- Food such as fish, snails, frogs and plants for 40,000 people.
- Water for washing and irrigation.

However, the natural ecosystem functioning of the wetland system has come under increasing pressure from:
- The majority of Vientiane City’s untreated domestic wastewater entering the marsh via the surface drainage network altering water chemistry, reducing biodiversity and effecting livelihoods.
- Unregulated urban and industrial development around the marsh.
- Unregulated industrial effluents entering the marsh.
- Agricultural conversion of the marsh to rice production or fish ponds.
- Unregulated waste dumping directly into the marsh.
- Alteration to the natural hydrological regime through drainage network schemes.

This project builds on a past economic valuation of That Luang Marsh conducted jointly by WWF and IUCN. The regional goal of the project is to demonstrate best practice for wastewater treatment and urban wetland management which can be replicated in other wetlands across the Mekong Basin.

Objectives

The overall objective is improved urban wastewater treatment, enhanced wetland management, increased institutional capacity through participatory decision making, refined regulations and planning policies within, and surrounding, That Luang Marsh leading to enhanced environmental conditions and the delivery of sustainable livelihoods.

Specifically:

1. Government agencies at community, district and municipal levels working with all stakeholders to achieve improved urban planning surrounding That Luang Marsh, thus avoiding detrimental impacts on important wetland ecosystem functioning.

2. Design of a constructed wetland treatment system to treat current and potential wastewater inputs to That Luang Marsh and the development of best practice guidelines for domestic and industrial wastewater treatment.

3. Effective management of all wetland ecosystem services and resources That Luang Marsh provides.

Solution

1. Investigate That Luang Marsh, Vientiane City, Lao PDR and provide guidance on how its ecosystem functions can be maximized for the benefit of people and wildlife.

2. Examine in detail the issue of wastewater management within the city and the feasibility of creating a constructed wetland treatment system, within That Luang Marsh, to treat domestic and industrial wastewater whilst maintaining the important functions of flood detention and food web support.

3. Develop a sustainable urban plan for the area surrounding the marsh and an adaptive management plan for the wetland area promoting high environmental standards in urban planning; innovative solutions and best practice guidance for effective treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater through wetland treatment systems; and the management of wetland resources and services to sustain stakeholder livelihoods and alleviate poverty.

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