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Vietnam Environmental Export Market Plan
Chapter 5 - Sewerage and Drainage

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Asian Development Bank estimate that only 16 percent of Vietnam's urban population are served by sewerage systems. Many of these systems are dual-purpose sewers that carry rainwater runoff as well as wastewater. The pipe and canal networks are unable to handle volume flows, resulting in backups and flooding.

Some of the largest overseas development assistance (ODA)-funded projects over the next five years are directed toward rehabilitating sewerage and drainage systems in Vietnam's major cities, most notably Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. While the projects in Hanoi are already underway, the four projects in Ho Chi Minh City are in the project preparation phase (Table 5.1).
Table 5.1 Pending Sanitation Projects in Ho Chi Minh City
HCMC Environmental ImprovementAsian Development Bank$100 millionLoan approved, feasibility study completed
HCMC Environmental SanitationWorld Bank$180 millionFeasibility study completed, detailed design underway
Sewerage & Drainage for Tau Hu - Ben Nghe CanalOverseas Economic Cooperation Fund$350 millionFeasibility study completed
Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal SanitationBelgian Administration Development Coop.$5 millionFeasibility and design studies underway
* Values represent U.S.dollars.
Source: Mekong Research Ltd., 2000.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City has nearly 1,000 kilometers of existing drainage -consisting of streams, canals, and closed sewers - that double as a conduit for rainwater and wastewater. Much of this system was built in the 1870s, with sporadic improvement projects conducted from the 1950s to 1975.

Most of the sewers are concrete, though some were built with brick and masonry. Settling has occurred since initial construction. Some areas require frequent repairs, because they collapse during high-volume periods, such as monsoon rains.

The system is too small to meet current needs and requires widespread repairs. The network was designed for a population of 1.5 million, whereas HCMC's population is expected to reach 7.6 million by 2020. The existing drainage network is estimated to handle 650,000 cubic meters of water per day. Therefore, certain sections of the city become flooded with polluted waters during the rainy season.

Most of the underground sewers drain into canals that eventually flow to the Saigon River. Over-development along the canals and the volume of solid waste restrict water flows, causing the canals and sewer systems to back up and flood.


Because of inadequate drainage and dual-purpose sewers, most of Hanoi's lakes and rivers suffer from pollution from urban wastes. The center of Hanoi is bordered by the Red River on the east and the Nhue River on the west. The center is most prone to floods because of inadequate drainage and sewerage networks. During heavy rains, water flows backwards from the Nhue River into the urban drainage facilities, causing widespread flooding of both rainwater and wastewater.

Hanoi's main drainage system is a network of 90 kilometers of inlet sluices. Much of this system servicing the "old city" was built before 1945 and services an area of 1,008 hectares.

A system servicing the "new city" covers an area of about 4,000 hectares for a population of 600,000 people. The system includes more than 60 kilometers of inlet sluice and nearly 40 kilometers of open sluice. The inlet sluices and canals are highly polluted. Some 120,000 - 130,000 cubic meters of mud accumulate there each year. Water-running speed at sluices and canals is very small, about 0.05 –0.10 m/s. The combined-use network is for rain, domestic, and industrial wastewater.

To date, projects to improve drainage and sewerage in both the "old" and "new" cities have been financed by Japanese development aid. From 1994 to 1997, Japan's Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has provided loans worth 18.6 billion yen to the Hanoi Drainage and Environmental Improvement Project. The project is improving flood control and drainage facilities for a 77.5-square-kilometer area bordered by the Red River and the To Lich River.

The program has financed dredging and clearing of sludge in existing sewers and drainage channels. In addition, the program is constructing flood and control gates, improving river and drainage channels, and rehabilitating sewers. A pumping station is being built at Yen So in the Southeast section of the city to regulate drainage channels and a reservoir.

The main civil works and procurement of equipment were selected through international competitive-bidding methods. Contracts for drainage-channel rehabilitation, lake dredging, and sewer rehabilitation were awarded based on local competitive-bidding methods.

Market Opportunities and Competitive Situation

The greatest opportunities in drainage and sewerage over the next two years will be in Ho Chi Minh City. This is largely because of the four major ODA projects that are underway or in the planning stages. These projects are tackling a number of environment-related problems in Ho Chi Minh City, but focus on improving the city's drainage and sewerage infrastructure.

HCMC Environmental Sanitation Project

The World Bank recently completed a feasibility study for a $180 million project to improve Ho Chi Minh City's sewerage and drainage systems. The project will rehabilitate the 33-square-kilometer Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe catchment basin in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, improving sanitary conditions for 1.2 million residents. According to current plans, the World Bank will finance $150 million of the project. The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee and the Department of Transport and Public Works are the local implementing agencies. The project is scheduled to start in 2000 and be completed by 2005.

American environmental consulting firm Camp Dresser McKee (CDM) won a $958,000 contract to prepare the recently completed feasibility study for the project. The World Bank is in the final stages of extending this contract and selecting CDM as project consultant to prepare the detailed engineering design. Prequalification for bidding on the project's first contracts was scheduled for late 2000.

The project will improve the network of drainage and sewerage systems that empty into the Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe canal, derisively referred to by local residents as "stink river." The nine-kilometer canal serves as the main drain for untreated wastewater from over a million residents and industries in the city center. The canal also serves as the main channel for rainwater drainage.

The project will create separate wastewater and rain water catchment systems leading to the canal. An interceptor pipeline will be installed two to three meters under the canal to separate wastewater and rain-water flows. A wastewater treatment station will eventually be built where the canal empties into the Saigon River, but funds are not currently available for its construction. For now, a pumping station only will be built at the end of the canal. Much of the project involves basic construction and piping installation, two areas where domestic enterprises have experience, equipment, and requisite skills. Domestic contractors will likely be in a strong position to win bids. Piping is also likely to be sourced domestically.

Some areas may provide opportunities for foreign equipment suppliers and contractors. The interceptor pipeline will include a series of combined sewer overflow structures or sluice gates that may be sourced from overseas. Pumps for the pumping station will also likely be purchased overseas, as few pumps are produced locally. Project managers may have to hire a foreign construction firm with experience in pipe jacking, as this is the most likely method to be used to install the two-to three-meter pipe underneath the canal.

HCMC Environment and Sanitation Improvement

The Asian Development Bank has signed a $70 million credit for the $100 million Ho Chi Minh City Environmental Improvement project. The project will improve urban drainage/sewerage and solid waste management and will finance improvements to the water distribution network. The total cost of the urban drainage/sewerage component of the project is $20.88 million.

The project will upgrade water drainage systems in districts 5, 6, and 11. The focus of the project will be on the Hang Bang canal area. The 380-hectare area is currently used as a catch basin, collecting waste and rain water from surrounding districts. Seventeen kilometers of new pipes, 7 kilometers of culverts, and 12 sluice gates will be built. The Ministry of Transport and Communications and MOSTE will administer the project, to begin in 2000 and reach completion in 2005.

Secondary Towns Environmental Improvement

According to the Asian Development Bank, a follow-up to the Ho Chi Minh City Environmental Improvement project is planned for 2002 to 2005. The ADB is scheduled to approve a loan in 2001 to improve environmental conditions in some of Vietnam's larger secondary cities.

Three Cities Sanitation Project

The World Bank is financing $80.5 million of a $119.5 million project to upgrade the drainage and sewerage infrastructure in Danang, Haiphong, and Quang Ninh (Halong City and Cam Pha). Prequalification for bidding on these projects has been completed. Consultants on the projects are Soil and Water Ltd. (Finland) in Haiphong, GHDK (Australia) in Danang, and Kampsax (Netherlands) in Halong.

The project will upgrade sewerage and wastewater treatment and drainage networks. The project also aims to foster administrative reform within the cities’ sanitation and drainage companies.

Eight civil works contracts have been awarded. The primary equipment procured for the projects include waste compactors, vacuum trucks, solid waste trucks, and bulldozers. Three countries are providing co-financing for the project: Denmark's DANIDA is providing $11.7 million, Finland's FINNIDA $5.8 million, and Australia's AusAID $1.24 million. The DANIDA and FINNIDA funds have financed most of the consulting services for the project.

Companies from each of these countries have won the consultant contracts for the projects. In Halong, the Danish firm Kampsax is the primary consultant. In Haiphong, Finland's Soil and Water is the consultant, and in Danang, a joint venture, between Australia's GHD and Vietnam's Kim Hien Co. (GHDK), is the primary consultant.

Urban Drainage and Sewerage System for HCMC

In December 1999, Japan's Pacific Consultants International completed a draft master plan for rehabilitating Ho Chi Minh City's drainage and sewerage systems. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded the study. The study estimates that $350 million is needed to complete priority upgrades of sewerage and drainage in the center of Ho Chi Minh City.

JBIC would finance rehabilitation of sewers, drainage networks, and canals in Districts 1, 5, and 6. This area is known as the Ben Nghe - Tau Hu Canal, which runs along the southern edge of the central business area. The canal is 12.2 kilometers long. It is contaminated with waste, garbage, direct inflow of domestic wastewater, and sludge. JICA has proposed dredging and building an interceptor along the length of the canal, which will parallel Ham Nghi and Tran Hung Dao roads. A treatment plant with a capacity of 512,000 m3 /day at Nha Be has also been recommended.

Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal

A fourth project to rehabilitate Ho Chi Minh City's drainage network is being undertaken by the Belgian Administration for Development and Cooperation (BADC). BADC is providing $1.5 million in grants to improve solid-waste collection and recycling, cleaning and maintaining the Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal, and improving collection and treatment of household and industrial wastewater. A European consortium will be selected to complete the detailed design of the project, scheduled to be complete by 2003.

As an extension of this project, BADC is providing a $5 million grant for rehabilitating a catchment basin covering 3,300 hectares in Districts 6, 8, 11, Tan Binh, and Binh Chanh. The government has agreed to provide $4 million in funding and may provide an additional $3 million to compensate relocated residents. The project feasibility study proposes a combined sewer system with an interceptor along the Tan Hoa - Lo Gom canal. In addition, a wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 242,000 m3 /day would be built in Binh Chanh district.

The larger of these projects is facing a three-year delay and is now scheduled to be completed in 2004 instead of in 2001 as was originally planned. Holding up implementation are administrative delays related to relocating existing residents and obtaining land permits to build a solid waste station and aerated lagoon. A Vietnamese company has been hired to complete the detailed designs for the project.

Second Provincial Towns Water Supply and Sanitation

The Asian Development Bank has committed $69 million to improve public health in seven provincial capitals by increasing access to clean water supplies. The project includes investments to rehabilitate or build new sewerage and drainage systems. The project was started in 1997 and is scheduled for completion in 2002.

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