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3.6 Policy and institutional framework (Topic f)

3.6.1 Regulatory framework

Most of the Asia Pacific countries have introduced regulations and standards that are used to implement their waste management policies. Two example are given, one for a developing country and another for a developed country, to illustrate the situation in the Region. This is followed by general observations of failure in most developing countries in the Region in implementing existing regulations.

Legal system regarding sewerage in Vietnam

The basic law for sewer systems is the sewer law, which defines amongst other things the purpose of sewerage systems, procedures for their establishment, matters related to their use, and control of the water quality for sewerage systems. Moreover, sewerage systems are now classified as basic urban facilities and function to conserve the water quality of public waters.

The City Planning Law and other ‘urban redevelopment laws' the Basic Law for Pollution Control, the Water Pollution Control Law and other ‘anti-pollution laws' are important as laws relative to the Sewerage Law. The laws regarding sewerage are supplemented by the Emergentcy Measures Law for the Development of Sewerage Systems(see table 3.16).

The main drawbacks of the current system are that the designers and builders are ignorant of established codes and standards. Time and resources are lost in preparing individual design criteria and standards, and the approval is, at least theoretically, open to influence by manipulation and abuse. Finally, the most appropriate and cost effective design for the conditions found in Vietnam should be applied.

In 1995 the Australia International Development Assistance Bureau “AIDAB" financed a study to prepare new design guidelines and standards for water supply and sanitation works.

Table 3.16: Water supply, sewerage and drainage systems standards in Vietnam
Code Title
TCXD 70-77 Maintenance and operation rules for sanitation facilities of industry and civil construction works
TCVN 5576-91 Water supply and sewerage systems, technical management rules
TCVN 3988-85 Design documents and work drawing standards for construction of water supply and sewer networks
TCVN 4038-85 Terminology and definitions for water sewer age and drainage systems
TCVN 2622-78 Fire fighting water
2OTCN 51-84 Standard branch sewerage and drainage system and works. Standard design
2OTCN 66-91 Operator of water supply and sewer system safety
Sector Standard Design criteria for water distribution systems and structures
Sector Standard Drinking water quality standards

National Sewer Development system in Japan

The administrative organization in Japan is made up of one office and 12 ministries. The Ministry of Construction is in charge of sewerage administration.

The Environment Agency establishes environmental water quality standards and controls effluent quality for the conservation of water, air and the natural environment. Effluent from sewage treatment plants is controlled in the same manner as wastewater from industrial plants.

The Ministry of Autonomy authorizes issue of local bonds, which are a significant financing source for the development of sewerage systems, and it subsidizes part of the cost for their redemption in the form of a local allocation tax.

The Ministry of Construction is in charge of guidance and supervision of local autonomous entities for the National Treasury. The City Bureau has a Sewerage and Sewage Purification Department under which the Sewage Planning Division is placed. The Sewage Purification Department is in charge of administration for approval of comprehensive programs for the development of the sewerage system in catchment areas, authorization of public sewerage, basin-wide sewerage, related other projects, and granting subsidies.

The Public Works Research of the Ministry of Construction has a Water Quality Control Division under which the Sewerage Section, Water Quality Section, Ultimate Disposal Section and Advanced Treatment Section are placed to carry out work on sewerage related issues.

Observation of regulatory framework failure in most of the Asia Pacific developing countries

Low priority of the wastewater sector

There are positive statements concerning sanitation, public health and environmental protection in the long term development strategies of Governments. However, these do not seem to enjoy a very high priority. Sustainable sanitary improvements are not possible without clearly indicated demand for these improvements. Sanitation is a commodity much more difficult to sell to customers than, e.g., drinking water. Therefore, the demand needs to be generated by social marketing, social pressure (solidarity), legislation, regulations and enforcement, and government incentives or budget allocations. This structure for demand generation is still very weak.

Overlapping responsibilities and duties

The roles of various organizations, have to some extent, been clarified and streamlined in the past years. There is still some overlap in the duties and responsibilities of for example health, environmental, and water resource authorities at ministry level as well as at the provincial / city level. The project preparation, appraisal and approval procedures are particularly complicated, involving much organisation and management.

The operational power, from the operation of utilities to generation of implementation investment, is decentralised to provincial and city levels. These local levels have sufficient authority to establish a good basis for client awareness management. However, this approach calls for skilled and motivated staff in every province, and local financing though revenue collection. Provinces do not receive central government revenue allocations.

At the utility level, a special problem is the limited authority, of drainage and sewerage authorities. For instance, small sewers are under the control of local and housing co-operatives, and emptying of septic tanks sometimes under a separate waste utility (if such exists). Such division of duties many hamper efficient and suitable management systems.

Poor enforcement of law and regulations

The legal system already provides reasonable means to the relevant authorities to take measures against pollution and potential risks to public health. In fact, laws, regulations and standards are partly too strict, in comparison with the existing situation in the country. It is impossible and unreasonable to enforce and apply all stipulations. This may, and most probably will, reduce the credibility of these and other regulations. The enforcement in general is still weak, probably due to transition from one system to another, relatively weak position of the enforcing ministries and agencies, and low priority give to environmental and sanitation issues when aiming at rapid economic growth.

Lack of sector data base

A major constraint for efficient sector development is the lack of centralised sector statistics, libraries and databases, where data and information would be freely available to all parties involved in the sector development. It is often very difficult to obtain adequate and consistent data, especially when data is required from agencies not directly controlled by the executing agency.

As an application of demand driven policy, emphasis in the institutional consideration of the proposed Strategy is in decentralisation of the activities from the central level to the local level, and from public sector to private sector. Decentralisation also creates new needs for central level and public sector involvement. They have to take measures to regulate and control the local and private sector activities.

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