Urban Water Systems in Can Tho, Vietnam: Understanding the current context for climate change adaptation

Type Report
Title Urban Water Systems in Can Tho, Vietnam: Understanding the current context for climate change adaptation
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Can Tho City is a major urban centre in the Vietnamese part of the lower Mekong Delta. The
city has developed rapidly over the last two decades, with significant economic growth and
increased urbanisation. At present the population has inadequate access to clean water supply
and sanitation, although the extent of access is highly varied between urban and rural areas. The
Vietnamese Government’s Can Tho Master Plan anticipates the continued growth of residential,
commercial, and industrial areas into the future. It is recognised that the planning of future
urban water services in Can Tho needs to consider the likely impacts of climate change. It is
against this setting that the Sustainable Cities and Coasts Theme in CSIRO’s Climate
Adaptation Flagship is undertaking a research project in Can Tho, Vietnam, to inform strategies
for sustainable urban water services that are resilient to climate change. The project, which is
funded under the CSIRO-AusAID Research for Development Alliance, is being delivered in
partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS, Vietnamese researchers and
government officials. This report details the current context for urban water systems in Can
Tho, and considers the potential influence of climate change on the sustainability of Can Tho’s
urban water systems. The report is based on the collection of data from government agencies,
and reports from other projects. The data collection and analysis builds upon information
developed during the Water Risk Index workshop, held in October 2010 with local
stakeholders. The analysis of data in this report is organised along the dimensions of urban
water issues explored in the workshop.
Climate modelling studies for Vietnam point to increased temperatures as well as changes in
average annual rainfall and sea level rise. The different models show wide ranges of
uncertainties in outputs, particularly for rainfall projections. Some studies have pointed to a
possible reduction in average annual rainfall. Although the flow rates in the Mekong are
unlikely to drop significantly, the demand for water supply is likely to increase due to
population growth and a rise in temperatures with associated impacts such as heat stress on
humans, animals and vegetation. Higher water demand will place the water treatment facilities
under increased pressure. The predicted sea level rise may lead to increase in salinity in
channels around the city posing a threat to water supply for urban consumption and irrigation.
There is also the potential for groundwater to be degraded and thereby reduce its availability for
use due to high salinity levels. The projections for the Mekong station located in Tan Chau (the
closest station to Can Tho) shows that in the high-flow season, the mean flow rate will increase
under the high emission climate change, but not under a more modest emission scenario. In the
low flow season however, all the scenarios with or without climate change point to an increase
in river flows, particularly under climate change scenarios.
The following sections summarise the key current issues for Can Tho’s urban water dimensions,
and the influence that climate change may have in exacerbating these issues.

Related studies