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City eyes local solution to water woes

Update: May, 08/2014 - 09:32
A HCM City resident pumps clean water from a truck. The city is currently in talks over a US$37 million water-saving project to replace water metering and old water pipelines. — VNS Photo

HCM CITY (VNS) — Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) is negotiating a US$37 million water-saving deal with two Vietnamese companies in HCM City.

The project model is unprecedented because, to date, all city projects to reduce water losses have involved foreign investors.

According to the proposal, the companies would spend the money reducing the rate of water losses through leakage in HCM City pipelines in 10 districts during the next 15 years.

The private companies are the HCM City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII) and the HCM City Finance and Investment Company (HFIC).

It promises to save 70,000 cubic metres of water a day for the first five years, and maintain the rate for another 10 years.

Le Quoc Binh, director of CII, said the southern city used 1.75 million of cubic metres of water every day, of which 35 per cent, equivalent to 700,000 cubic meters, was lost, mostly through leaking old pipelines. About 10 per cent of the city's water pipelines are more than 30 years-old and are degraded.

The project would consist of replacing water metering and old and degraded pipelines with modern and hi-tech equipment. When the project is completed, all the infrastructure will be transferred to Sawaco.

For every cubic metre of water saved in the first year, Sawaco will have to pay VND4,000 ($20 cents) to the joint-venture. The price will increase every year in line with the 10 per cent increase in the cost of living, Binh said.

At present, the price for each cubic metre of water sold by Sawaco to consumers is VND9,000 ($42 cents).

"The amount that Sawaco has to pay for the water re-collected is, thus, quite reasonable," Binh said.

Tran Dinh Phu, director of Sawaco, said he highly welcome the project because Sawaco itself is not financially capable of doing the work.

Sawaco is spending $154 million on expanding the water supply network in HCM City. A major part of the project is building an 11km pipeline from Thu Duc District to Dien Bien Phu Street. The installation is expected to begin by the end of this year.

Binh said the current price of water in HCM City took into account the rate of water loss. If the proposed project could save water, prices could become more stable. — VNS

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