HCMC anti-flooding reservoirs remain on paper for years

By Gia Minh   June 6, 2022 | 04:00 am PT
HCMC anti-flooding reservoirs remain on paper for years
A man wades his motorbike through the water on a flooded To Ngoc Van Street in Thu Duc City, HCMC, June 2, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
Several anti-flooding reservoirs that HCMC has planned have remained on paper for years for lack of land and technical standards as also pricing issues.

The city began considering anti-flooding reservoirs over a decade ago as the climate change crisis worsened, but it was only in 2015 did it propose a few reservoir projects in areas prone to severe and frequent flooding.

The biggest of these was the Go Dua reservoir in Thu Duc City, spanning over 20 ha and costing over VND1 trillion ($43.1 million). Besides the reservoir itself, the project would also clean up 15 km of rivers and canals, and install a high-capacity pumping system. Once completed, the project was expected to prevent flooding in a 1,300 ha area.

HCMC also wanted to build two other reservoirs: the Khanh Hoi reservoir in District 4, spanning 4.8 ha and costing around VND600 billion; and one in Bau Cat Park of Tan Binh District, spanning 0.4 ha and costing VND50 billion.

However, all these projects have been suspended for lack of feasibility studies and issues regarding investment procedures.

In late 2018, the HCMC Steering Center for Urban Flood Control proposed building seven reservoirs at a total cost of VND475 billion using Japanese technology.

To evaluate the feasibility of the projects, HCMC allowed Japanese company Sekisui to build one reservoir on Thu Duc City's Vo Van Ngan Street in 2017 at a cost of VND1.5 billion. The reservoir could hold more than 100 m3 of water.

Following the evaluation, it was proposed that the seven reservoirs are built in 2019 and 2020. But since these projects would overlap with existing infrastructure, they could not be implemented.

Last year, HCMC repeated its approval of the seven reservoirs for construction to begin within four years. In the latest approval, adjustments were made to six reservoir locations, the other being Go Dua.

In Go Vap District, two reservoirs would be built inside parks on Nguyen Van Khoi Street at a cost of over VND150 billion. Binh Thanh District would host two reservoirs on Tan Cang Street and Dien Bien Phu-Nguyen Huu Canh intersection with investments of VND32 billion and VND50 billion, respectively.

Two other reservoirs would be constructed in District 10 and Phu Nhuan District: one on Phan Xich Long Street for VND55 billion; and the other on Ba Thang Hai Street with VND71 billion.

Ho Long Phi, former director of the Center of Water Management and Climate Change under the Vietnam National University in HCMC, said reservoirs were an important solution for areas where drainage capacities have been overwhelmed. They can be built in many locations, even on pavements on underground, he said.

Phi said the greatest challenge in building anti-flooding reservoirs was the lack of land; so the ambition of building reservoirs spanning dozens of hectares was unrealistic. The lack of specific technical standards and pricing issues were other bottlenecks, he added.

"Technical issues can absolutely be solved, but the main challenges are mechanisms and procedures," he said.

Echoing Phi, Le Huy Ba, former head of the Institute of Environmental Science, Engineering and Management under the Industrial University of HCMC, said many countries have used reservoirs as a solution against flooding. In Japan, there are reservoir networks that not only prevent floods, but also help store water and reduce pollution.

"HCMC might be late to the game, but reservoirs must still be constructed to solve pressing urban issues. The longer we take, the less land we will have and the more expensive the projects will become," Ba said, adding that the reservoirs must be built in conjunction with sewer systems.

Around 15 locations in HCMC may suffer from floods and inundations this year, according to the municipal Department of Construction. A heavy downpour Thursday submerged multiple streets in the city downtown and Thu Duc area, paralyzing traffic.

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