Vietnam's water drainage infrastructure pales against world average

By Son Ha   August 26, 2022 | 03:46 am PT
Vietnam's water drainage infrastructure pales against world average
Vehicles wade through a flooded street in HCMC's Thu Duc City after heavy rains, June 22, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
There is only 0.5-meter worth of water pipes for each citizen in Vietnam, a fourth of the world average of two meters, the transport ministry said.

At a Thursday conference on water drainage solutions for climate change response, organized by the Ministry of Transport and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Luong Ngoc Khanh, head of the water drainage and wastewater treatment division of the technical infrastructure department under the transport ministry, said one of the reasons why water drainage systems don't work effectively is because both rainwater and wastewater are being collected by the same system.

The percentage of collected wastewater only reaches 15%, while the connectivity and coverage of the water drainage system is only 64%, which is lower than the goal set in 2020 of 70%, Khanh added.

As cities keep being reinforced with concrete, lakes and ponds would disappear, lowering urban water storage capabilities and worsening inundations. The lack of synchronicity between old and new water drainage infrastructure, coupled with a lack of funding, means the designed capacity of water drainage systems has not been able to match actual rain levels.

Khanh said both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are now unable to handle water drainage during severe downpours or other extreme weather events. Especially in recent years, amid impacts of climate change, rain is falling much more frequently and with higher intensity than before, he added.

In the long run, cities would overhaul their water drainage systems and update the list of lakes and ponds not to be removed, among other measures, to increase drainage capabilities. Localities also need to prioritize their investments into drainage, building water reservoirs and pumping stations in frequently inundated areas, Khanh said.

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