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Flood water, sewage inundates HCM City

Update: May, 14/2009 - 00:00

Flood water, sewage inundates HCM City


Motorbike drivers in HCM City’s Binh Thanh District attempt to make their way through the flood water. — VNA/VNS Photo Trang Duong

HCM CITY — Flooding in inner HCM City is expected to worsen during the upcoming rainy season, as scores of sewage pipes have been damaged or left unconnected from the drainage network, according to city officials.

There are 170 sites prone to flooding, nearly double the number of flood-prone areas last year, even though new drainage pipes have been installed.

On Ly Thuong Kiet Street in Tan Binh District, for instance, the contractors working on the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Basin Environmental and Hygiene Project have covered up a drainpipe opening that crosses Phu Hoa and Le Minh Xuan streets.

As a result, rainwater in the area has been blocked, leading to flooding.

In addition, a 600mm-pipe crossing at Pham Van Hai Street was not connected to a new pipe by a road construction crew, and later collapsed.

Scores of street-crossing drainage pipes were destroyed by workers installing new pipes on Binh Thanh and Phu Nhuan district roads, including Bach Dang, Hoang Hoa Tham, Truong Sa, Vu Tung, Dinh Tien Hoang, Xo Viet Nghe Tinh and Nguyen Kiem.

An inspection by the city drainage company showed that Construction Corporation No1, when installing a pipeline, disrupted the drainage of water at the Phan Dang Luu and Hoang Hoa Tham intersection.

A survey by the city’s Center for Flood Prevention shows that 20 drainage pipes traversing the street were destroyed in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe basin area alone.

Do Tan Long, head of the center’ s drainage system management, said the incident was spotted immediately after the end of a raining period on April 13, but has so far not been dealt with.

He was concerned that many older drainage pipes have yet to be connected to the common system, although installation of the new pipes has been completed.

Ho Long Phi, an expert at the city’ s Flooding Prevention Co-ordination Board, warned that destruction of branch pipes across the street was bound to worsen inner-city flooding on rainy days and more places would be vulnerable to heavy inundation.

The only solution is to dig up destroyed street-crossing drainage pipes and reconnect them, which would help rainwater drain out faster and alleviate flooding in some areas.

He said a plan should have been mapped out at the beginning to connect branch pipes with newly installed pipes on a step-by-step basis during the construction process.

Existing hassles

The city’s current drainage system can meet only 30 per cent of the actual demand, while scientists have warned that multimillion-dollar drainage projects now being undertaken will soon become out of date upon completion.

According to the city’s Department of Transport, the total length of the current drainage pipelines across the city is around 1,000km, meeting less than one-third of practical needs.

Many streets and residential areas still don’t have a proper drainage system and several rivers and canals have been flattened because of inadequate planning, which has worsened flooding in the city.

To tackle the problem, an approved master plan until 2020 envisages the city will build 2,500km of open sewage to drain rainwater and another 2,000km to collect wastewater from eight factories.

City authorities are depending on ODA-funded projects capitalised at US$800 million to address flooding in inner-city districts, such as districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11 and Phu Nhuan, Binh Thanh and Tan Binh.

The city’s Environmental and Hygiene project at Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal, the Water Environment Improvement project and the Urban Upgrade project will together build 250km of new rainwater drains, 40 km of connecting drains and two wastewater treatment facilities.

Progress of these projects, however, has been delayed for four years, while just 60-70 per cent of the workload has been completed.

It is anticipated that the projects will be finished by early 2011 or 2012.

But Ho Long Phi warned that the projects were at risk of becoming obsolete after being put into service and would fail to deal with chronic flooding in inner-city areas.

Most of the projects were designed based on the database on rainfall and strong tides during the 1999-2000 period, during which the drainage system was designed to tackle only 90-98mm rains citing the occurrence of 100-mm rain every three to four years.

Recent observation, however, shows that there are heavier rains of more than 100mm, which will ultimately make the ongoing installation of new drainage pipes outdated and overloaded. — VNS

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