Heavy rains cause flooding on a road in District 8, HCM City (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City needs long-term flood-prevention plans that would focus on the most densely populated areas first and limit development in lowland areas, experts said at a recent meeting held in the city.

Huynh Le Khoa, from the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that high tides on the Sai Gon River had increased significantly during the past 10 years, with the highest level recorded at 1.72 metres. Heavy rainfall of over 100mm has been occurring more frequently in the city.

“It’s really difficult to resolve the flooding problem. The city should instead focus on densely populated areas and then the less vulnerable areas,” he added.

Vu Hai, former Vice President of the HCM City Association of Water and Environment, said that flooding had worsened in the city in recent years.

“Floods this year have been more serious than last year,” he said, adding that there are now 40 flood-prone sites in the city.  

Current flood-prevention programmes are ineffective because they are too costly and take too much to implement, experts said.

A study conducted by the National University of HCM City in District 7 showed that the average annual loss from flooding was 13 million VND (565 USD) per household, 13.4 million VND (582 USD) per household business, and 24 million VND (1,050 USD) per enterprise.

The cost includes repair of floors, walls and electrical equipment; dredging of drainage systems inside and outside the house; and time spent to move and repair belongings and furniture.

Companies incur additional costs because they lose about four days of work each year, according to the study.

Other losses include forced leave from work and lost time in traffic jams, all of which can reach up to the equivalent of a total of 90 billion VND (3.94 million USD) per year. 

Le Anh Tuan, a representative from the HCM City’s Steering Centre for Urban Flood Control, said the city was speeding up the upgrade of Tham Luong-Ben Cat Canal and Nuoc Len Canal to address drainage problems.

Eight tide-control drains, 68 drainage dikes, and seven to eight dyke embankments along the Sai Gon riverbank are being built as well.
All of the projects, which are expected to significantly reduce flooding, are slated to be completed by 2020.

Flooding at 13 out of 17 floor-prone roads would be resolved, while more than 179,100 alleys and nine roads often hit by high tides would also see reduced flooding.

Hai said that, among many solutions, ecological reservoirs could regulate the amount of water in case of heavy rains.

Besides construction of dyke and water reservoirs, the city also needs to continue research on flood-prone areas, he added.  

The city has spent more than 22 trillion VND (962.68 million USD) to solve flooding in the last 10 years. The figure is expected to reach more than 120 trillion VND by 2020.
 
However, the results of flood control have not been commensurate with the effort and costs, experts said.

The city plans to build at least seven new wastewater treatment plants from now until 2020 to deal with its rapidly rising population.
HCM City will need up to 97.3 trillion VND (4.25 billion USD) for flood-prevention projects in the next three years, experts said.-VNS/VNA