Phuoc Hoa-Dau Tieng irrigation system

Year:1985 & 2014

Duration:6 & 8 years

Cost:$300m ($317m today)

Country: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

What did this project achieve?

In Vietnam build an irrigation system for agricultural land and manufacturing

The Dau Tieng irrigation system is a water supply scheme built in Vietnam in the 1980s. The network provides water to the Tay Ninh province of Vietnam as well as farmland around the capital Ho Chi Minh City – also known as Saigon.

The project includes the 1.1km Dau Tieng dam across the Sai Gon river, 70km north west of Ho Chi Minh. The 29m high dam can store up to 1.58bn metres3 of water.

The Dau Tieng scheme wasn't as effective as had been hoped. By 1998 a rapidly-growing Ho Chi Minh and the 5 surrounding provinces were facing major challenges in meeting demands for water supply.

The Vietnamese government developed a plan to improve water supply to the region. It eventually saw the construction of Phuoc Hoa barrage, a 41km long canal and a 30,000 hectare extension to the Dau Tieng irrigation system. The project – which also included modernisation of the Dau Tieng scheme – was completed in 2014.

The Phuoc Hoa-Dau Tieng system is the largest artificial water complex in Vietnam. It stretches 160km from the Phuoc Hoa barrage to the end of the Dau Tieng irrigation system.

The $300m project was mainly funded with a loan from the Asian Development Bank.

Cash for modernisation on the Dau Tieng scheme came from the World Bank.

Difference the irrigation project has made

The Phuoc Hoa-Dau Tieng scheme aims to provide around 200,000 farming families with reliable irrigation water.

A reliable water supply means farmers in the region could grow up to 3 crops a year and potentially make some profit from their lands.

Cities in the region should have more secure water supplies. Improved water supplies to industrial areas should help stimulate growth and create more jobs.

How the work was done

Works for the Phuoc Hoa scheme included a 34m high dam, 110m wide barrage and a 500m wide secondary spillway across the Be river floodplain. A spillway is a passage for surplus water from a dam.

Engineers chose a barrage as – unlike dams – they can be used to flush out sediment from the river. A barrage has gates that can be raised or lowered to allow water to pass through.

A key part of the scheme saw the project team build a 41km concrete-lined transfer canal to carry water from the barrage down to the Dau Tieng reservoir.

The Phuoc Hoa scheme opened in phases between 2011 and 2014. It substantially increased water flow into the Dau Tieng reservoir – boosting the effectiveness of the irrigation system.

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Holistic planning of the country's water resource… plays a significant role in the long-term development of Vietnam.

Black and Veatch

Black and Veatch website

Fascinating facts

There are around 8,000 irrigation systems in Vietnam.

Although the country has a high annual rainfall the schemes are widespread as some regions see much less rain than others.

The last 40 years have seen around £5tn spent on irrigation schemes in Vietnam. The massive cash outlay has been prompted by a shift from family-owned farms to intensive cropland systems across the country.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural of the Vietnam government
  • Designers: Hydraulic Engineering Company 2 (Vietnam)
  • Consulting engineers: Black and Veatch
  • ICE members working on the scheme included David Meigh, Martin Donaldson and Harry King.

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