file under: Water, Environment, Asia/Pacific, Government

Clean Waterways for Ho Chi Minh City

Sustainable Development in Vietnam

Twenty years ago, the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe (NLTN) canal was a highly polluted waterway winding through business and residential districts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest city and economic center. Untreated wastewater from a combined sewer system; overflows from an aged and undersized drainage system; waste from residences, businesses and factories; and a build-up of solid waste, sludge, debris and sediments had turned the canal into a public health and environmental hazard.

Neighbors could see, and smell, the difference...What had once been a place to avoid became a place for people to meet. 

Working with the Government of Vietnam since 1998 under World Bank and city funding of $390 million, CDM Smith provided technical services—including feasibility studies, detailed design and construction management—to transform the NLTN canal into a clean waterway with landscaped banks and waterside parks.

A new 9-kilometer-long, 3-meter-wide interceptor sewer now collects wastewater from the combined sewers, diverting the flows to a wastewater pumping station for preliminary treatment before discharge through a diffuser to the Saigon River. The extension, rehabilitation and replacement of 51 kilometers pipes and culverts reduced flooding, and the dredging of sediments and strengthening of embankments restored the hydraulic capacity of the canal.

According to a article by Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, “Neighbors could see, and smell, the difference. Along the canal, gardens were planted, sidewalks were widened, bridges were upgraded and fitness equipment was installed. What had once been a place to avoid became a place for people to meet.” The World Bank has selected the NLTN canal as one of its top three featured projects worldwide.

During the commemoration of the project’s completion, Ho Chi Minh City Mayor Le Hoang Quan noted, “The project has important impacts to comprehensively and sustainably develop Ho Chi Minh City. It has significantly reduced flooding and pollution, bringing a better living environment for more than 1.2 million people.” 

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World Bank