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3 April 2018

Flood control in Vietnam

After a series of deadly floods in recent years, Vietnam is ramping up its efforts to be more resilient in the face of natural disasters. New and optimised infrastructure will be key in its success.

The Yen Nghia project

Located close to Hanoi, the Yen Nghia pumping station will ensure the capital can rapidly respond to floods that are increasingly threatening the city.

 

Introduction

Both bountiful and destructive, water phenomena have always defined Vietnam as a country. The twin deltas of the Red and the Mekong rivers on polar ends of the country provide fertile lowlands that host the majority of the Vietnamese population and the strip of countryside connecting them is a land of natural funnels that receives most of the rainfall from the frequent typhoons that pummel the Laotian mountains to the west. As such, the country has a long history of developing water infrastructure projects - from extensive webs of irrigation canals in the two deltas to sea and river dikes pushing back against rising waters all over the country.

While the Vietnamese economy has seen a recent upmark in growth predictions by the World Bank and steady declines of poverty levels over the previous decades, a large part of the population continues to face a precarious economic reality. The poorest parts of the population tend to subsist on income from rice farming in lowlands that are especially prone to river flooding and seawater intrusion.

Natural disasters in recent years have shown that the flood management infrastructure in Vietnam is in desperate need of improvement. The autumn storms of 2008 hit the north of the country, including the capital Hanoi, with the heaviest rainfall in 24 years, and led to 15,000 family evacuations, as well as widespread crop destruction in the surrounding provinces. 2017 saw colossal damage inflicted in central and southern Vietnam, with typhoon Damrey claiming 123 lives in its wake and leaving behind close to $1bn in infrastructure damage. Meanwhile, nearby Thailand suffered what has been described as the worst flood in over half a century in 2011.

Future initiatives

Due to the great risk posed by floods, Vietnam has a number of disaster prevention and mitigation projects in place funded by both the central government and international bodies such as the World Bank. The authorities of Ho Chi Minh City are investing heavily in flood prevention projects and have recently revealed plans to apply for a US$350 billion loan from the Asian Development Bank for these purposes. A less expensive infrastructure plan which aims to increase the resilience of flood-affected communities in multiple Vietnamese provinces is looking at a late 2021 deadline and is close to being fully funded by the World Bank.

With Vietnam listed as the fifth most at-risk country in the latest Global Climate Risk Index by the international climate watchdog Germanwatch, the improvement of existing flood infrastructure and the development of new projects will be of paramount importance to the future of this country.

The Yen Nghia project

Situated to the southwest of Hanoi, the Yen Nghia project is bound to be a cornerstone of the capital city’s ability to withstand future floods. Set to be completed by the end of 2018, the Yen Nghia flood discharge pumping station will be the biggest in the country, providing about 6.4 million people with enhanced protection from this natural disaster. ANDRITZ will be supplying the newly built pumping station with ten vertical line shaft pumps between March and August.

The pumps to be installed in the Yen Nghia station are specially designed for the purpose of flood control. Since they don’t need to run unless conditions call for it, the pumps are required to have a very short response time - in case of sudden flooding they need to reach full power very quickly. Since floodwater contains a lot of diverse material washed away by floods, the pumps need to be incredibly durable and be able to transport large amounts of water at low head in the shortest possible time. Each pump can transport up to 15 cubic metres of water per second and if all ten pumps are activated at once, they would be able to fill up the largest swimming pool in the word in less than half an hour.

 

Ensuring success

The scope of ANDRITZ’s part in the Yen Nghia project includes the construction, manufacture, transport and installation supervision of the ten pumps as well as the provision of spare parts. The necessary performance test of the pumps will be conducted at the test bench of the local Vietnamese company Hai Duong Pump Manufacturing JSC (HPMC). HPMC is responsible for the supply of the entirety of the electromechanical equipment for the Yen Nghia station. During this collaboration on the largest pumping station in Vietnam, ANDRITZ signed an exclusive distribution contract with HPMC that also includes projects in Cambodia and Laos, which forms the basis for more common projects in the future.

 

Increasing need for infrastructure

While the current flood disaster projects in Vietnam are heavily focused on community preparedness and mitigation of flood effects, the country will only be able to minimise the effects of powerful storms and other phenomena resulting from climate change if the adequate infrastructure is in place. The Yen Nghia pumping station is only one project in the many that are badly needed to secure the future of Vietnam in the face of the acute natural disasters brought on by climate change.

 

In 2017, the ANDRITZ GROUP had over 25,000 employees at 250 locations in over 40 countries. The international technology group is a world market leader for the supply of plants, equipment, and services for hydropower stations, the pulp and paper industry, the metalworking and steel industries, for solid/liquid separation in the municipal and industrial sectors, and for animal feed and biomass pelleting. In addition to turnkey hydropower plants, ANDRITZ develops and manufactures high-quality large and standard pumps for many different industries and applications worldwide. These include pumps for large infrastructure projects for irrigation, desalination, and drinking water supply, for drainage of mines, as well as for the pulp and paper and the food industry.