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HCMC water level reaches record high in 61 years

Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 14:12 GMT+7
HCMC water level reaches record high in 61 years
Serious flooding in HCMC on October 21, 2013

After reaching 1.64 meters on Sunday, the height of the Saigon River continued to increase to 1.68 meters on Monday, continuing to flood many areas in Ho Chi Minh City, the Southern Hydro-meteorological Station reported. 

>> Floods at record high in Ho Chi Minh City

Yesterday’s water level is abnormal and is a record high for the past 61 years. Concerned agencies are trying to explain the phenomenon, said Nguyen Minh Giam, deputy director of the Station. On the evening of October 21, floodwater on Huynh Tan Phat Street in District 2 rose to half of the wheel of a motorbike, causing many vehicles to break down and blocking traffic in the area.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Binh and Le Van Luong Streets in Nha Be District were submerged under 0.5 meters of water. Other streets like Luong Dinh Cua (District 2), Phu Dinh Quay (District 8), Pham Huu Lau (District 7), and Dao Su Tich (Nha Be) were also seriously inundated.  

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A house is heavily submerged on October 21, 2013 (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

Many residents living near the An Phu Dong, District 12, had to use bags of sand to prevent water from entering their house from the flooded streets outside.

By yesterday afternoon, numerous houses in Ward 5, Go Vap District, along the Vam Thuat River, a small branch of the Saigon River, had to use tools to remove water from their submerged houses. The same inundation was seen in many low-lying areas in the city, despite the embankments that have been built in many of these areas, causing much disturbance to locals.

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Many areas are submerged under 0.5 meter of floodwater (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

Flood waters have overflowed many embankment systems in the Binh Trieu area in Thu Duc District and other areas in District 2, said Do Tan Long, head of the city’s Anti-Flooding Program Operating Center. The current embankments can prevent flooding if the water level is less than 1.6 meters high, he added. According to the center, the city’s top 10 areas that are afflicted with 1.5 meters of water (alarm level 3) when flooding is at its worst include Huynh Tan Phat Street (District 7), Van Than and Lo Gom streets (District 6), Binh Quoi and Ngo Tat To Streets (Binh Thanh District), Kha Van Can Street (Thu Duc District), Ho Hoc Lam Street (Binh Tan District), Luong Dinh Cua Street (District 2), and Pham The Hien Street and the Phu Dinh Quay (District 8).

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A motorbike is broke down in an alley (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

Solutions To cope with increasing water levels, the Government in 2008 approved a large project, Project 1547, under which a big dyke, embankment systems, and tide-controlling sewerage will be built, but the project is being developed slowly, Long said.  According to the project, a dyke and embankment system with a total length of 176 km and 13 big and hundreds of small tide-preventing sewers will be set up to handle high water levels. But so far only a large sewer has been built in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal area, the official said. While waiting for the completion of the project, the center and other concerned agencies have taken some temporary measures to prevent flooding caused by rising river levels, including the addition of valves in river mouths and the installment of 40 water pump stations with capacities ranging from 1,000-8,000 cubic meters, Long said.

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Heavy flooding causes much disturbance to residents in low-lying areas in HCMC (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

He emphasized that such measures fail to cope with flooding in the long run and that only when Project 1547 is finished will inundation be completely prevented. Meanwhile, regarding flooding in the city, Prof. Dr Le Huy Ba, head of the Science, Technology, and Environment Institute, blamed the flooding in HCMC for the leveling of many ponds, lakes, river branches, and canals in the city. Leveling destroys potential repositories for excess water and inhibits natural drainage, the scientist said.

“25-30 percent of canals in the city have been filled up and many construction projects have leveled swamps, causing a loss of areas that can hold water,” he explained. He suggested that the city authorities build large water-regulating reservoirs to create a space in which water might be contained.

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