Improving transboundary water management to protect communities

Management of transboundary rivers today is only achieved by taking into account legal, environmental and economical factors. For the Sesan and Srepok river basins, getting the most up-to-date and reliable information shared between Vietnam and Cambodia is crucial to improve the short-term response to flood events and increase the long-term water management. Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and Viet Nam National Mekong Committee (VNMC) decided to develop an advanced decision support system (DSS) using MIKE Powered by DHI technology and DHI’s expertise in this field.

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Challenge

The Sesan-Srepok (2S) river basins are large transboundary tributaries of the Mekong River shared by Vietnam and Cambodia. In addition to the implementation of the regulations on water use as stipulated in the 1995 Mekong Agreement, the cooperation and coordination between Vietnam and Cambodia in the management of river basins have also become an imperative necessity to better manage water resources and ensure sustainable development.

The upper 2S rivers in Vietnam are highly managed river systems for hydropower production. Those developments have significantly modified the natural hydrological regime of both river systems. There were approved operation rules applied for hydropower reservoirs in these 2S rivers aimed at controlling the released flows at the border between Vietnam and Cambodia as stable as possible. However, an advanced tool for improved decision support system was still lacking.

VNMC requires an easy to use, shared and centralised DSS to manage floods in real-time as well as water resources planning for basin management purposes, while abiding by the legal requirements.

Solution

Driven by MIKE Powered by DHI, a DSS was developed to support MONRE and VNMC in water resources management of the 2S basins, helping with water resources planning, flood forecasting and reservoir operations. VNMC contracted two consulting firms for the development of the DSS and DHI was hired to help VNMC with the supervision of the implementation of these contracts.

Using MIKE HYDRO River, we simulated  more than 1000 km of rivers and included numerous reservoirs and their complex operations. This river model runs in real-time and provides accurate flood forecasts twice a day. A MIKE HYDRO Basin model supports the river basin planning and management based on IWRM principles, providing insight months in advance for the 50,000 km2 catchment. MIKE OPERATIONS was chosen as the central part of this complex system. It manages models in real-time while connecting to a variety of data sources and using a knowledge base developed for this project. A key aspect of this system is its versatility, as it can be easily extended at a later stage to meet future needs.

Water experts are working with the system through a user-friendly web-based interface that was designed to integrate naturally with VNMC workflows and processes. This provides the right level of insight regarding the river flow, flood risk and hydropower dam operation. This information is crucial for both countries to have a common understanding of the river flow (in normal and emergency cases) and to plan water releases from hydropower dams in Sesan and Srepok rivers crossing the border well ahead of time.

Results

Transparent and science-based decision making for better transboundary cooperation

Flood forecasting and warning, including a reservoir operations model, for safer communities

Versatile river basin management system for optimised long-term water usage

Watch this video by the Mekong River Commission to get a deeper insight into the project:

'We chose DHI because their world-wide recognised tools have been widely used in water-related institutions in Vietnam since the '90s and they have been doing well in providing technical support, training and knowledge transfer. DHI’s solution has solved great concerns by accurately simulating the flow mechanism, nutrient and sediment transport and river water quality variation. The decision support system is starting to be used actively to support integrated water resource planning for the Sesan-Srepok river basins and also for transboundary cooperation with Cambodia.’

Dr. Le Duc Trung, Director General
Office of Viet Nam National Mekong Committee

About the client

Viet Nam National Mekong Committee (VNMC) is an interdisciplinary agency responsible for assisting the Prime Minister in directing and managing inter-sectoral, inter-provincial and transboundary activities in order to effectively and sustainably manage and utilise water and related resources in the Mekong Basin, including Cuu Long (the Vietnam’s Mekong Delta parts) and SeSan-Srepok river basins.

Software used

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