Australia Vietnam water utility twinning program – a multi-disciplinary capacity development partnership

Vietwater'16, the largest water conference in Vietnam, was held in Ho Chi Minh City between 9 and 11 November. The Australian Water Association hosted an award winning pavilion and coordinated an Australian delegation of more than 70 water industry professionals to the Conference. This included goods and services experts and five water utilities whose focus was to kick off a twinning partnership program with five Vietnamese water utilities. The twinning program is an initiative between the Association and the VWSA (Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association).

During the five days of the Vietnam visit, the Australian Water Association organised an in-country briefing where delegates were provided an insight on business practices and tips for a successful engagement during the conference exhibition, as well as a site visit to two water treatment plants in Ho Chi Minh City: SAWACO and then BIWASE. The Director and a delegation of Head of Departments of both sites welcomed the Australian delegation, clearly indicating the importance in partnering with the Australian water industry.

The formal conference proceedings started on Wednesday, 9 November with a beautiful opening ceremony with traditional Vietnamese dancers and music. Again the hospitality of our Vietnamese friends were second to none. As at every large international conference, technical papers were presented in two main streams (water and energy efficiency) whilst the exhibition attracted more than 300 exhibitors from all over the world, including China, Germany, Japan, Australia, Netherlands and many others. Indeed this is a market and industry that is rapidly developing.

On Thursday morning, Australian Water Association president President Peter Moore PSM, presented the Australian water reform journey in managing climate change and  in the afternoon, the Association hosted a water quality workshop including speakers from a range of backgrounds: regulation, universities and technology, the practical insights from water utilities, and water quality specialists. The simultaneous translation from English to Vietnamese proved to be successful as the room was full during both sessions.

Friday saw the completion of the conference and the commencement of the twinning program. The Australian Water Association and VWSA coordinated a workshop designed to support the twinning introductions between five utilities of each country and to scope out the priority focus, understanding organisational constrains and kick-off a plan of action. The five twinning organisations are:

Son La Water – Cairns water
Saigon Water – SEQWater
Hue WACO – Water Corporation
Binh Duong – Wannon Water
Phu Tho – Coliban Water

Like many water utilities around the world, the Vietnamese water utilities are challenged by climate change, increasing population, financial constraints and competing water demand.

I am honoured to have represented the Water Corporation in establishing the twinning program with Hue WACO. The proposed program focuses on a multi-disciplinary capacity building approached in areas of potable water supply and water utility management, where Water Corporation will explore new ways of knowledge sharing and training by involving both utilities&; staff to shape the project delivery.

The proposed program includes formal (“in-class”) presentations with informal and on-the-job training with two pilot projects: a water treatment selection project and an asset management project focused on pump/energy efficiency and non-revenue water (details are yet to be confirmed).

The initial phase is an exchange of information aimed at obtaining information to support the tailored pilot projects. From March onwards, it is proposed that a delegation of each country will visit the dedicated twinning partner to learn and exchange knowledge and experiences.

Hue WACO provides training to the local schools as well other Vietnam water utilities so this program can provide significant broad and positive impacts on the development of water skills and knowledge.

Related topics