Serious flooding risks loom large in HCMC: expert

By Mai Vong, Thanh Nien News

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A flooded street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh A flooded street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
The rising number of heavy rains and tidal peaks could quickly overwhelm Ho Chi Minh City's inadequate sewage system unless drastic action is taken, according to one expert.
Ho Long Phi, director of the Center of Water Management and Climate Change, said the city’s drainage system was designed to handle a rough maximum of 100 millimeters of rainfall in three hours and a tidal peak of 1.32 meters.
But rains are getting heavier each day and the water is rising, he said.
On the afternoon of September 6, a downpour lasted more than three hours in the city, dropping 122 millimeters of rain on a single spot in Binh Thanh District.
Phi predicted the problem will become “unbearable” in the near future.
According to the expert, the city should continue to upgrade its drainage system, especially in flood-prone areas.
City authorities have long complained about a lack of funding for drainage projects, so Phi recommended that the city fund major projects and call on the private sector to invest in smaller ones.
There are around 3,200 km of drainage sewers in HCMC, most of which are small and old; 
the municipal administration estimates HCMC needs over 2,500km of additional sewers.
The sewers were designed to accommodate a city of 2.5 million people. Meanwhile the city’s current population has exceeded 10 million.
Phi said the city should also give more power to a center in charge of overseeing the city’s flood mitigation program, which was established by the city administration in 2008 to act as a consultant to the government's anti-flood work.
City authorities should raise people’s awareness of the risks of dumping rubbish into sewers, ditches and canals, which could block the current of water flow and cause more serious flooding, he said.

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