Dong Hoi City is the capital of Quang Binh Province in Viet Nam. Situated in the north central coast of the country, it is home to more than 200,000 residents.
The city’s water and wastewater services are currently provided by the Quang Binh Urban and Environment One Member Limited Company (URENCO), a stateowned municipal environment service company. It caters to an estimated customer base of around 15,000 households.
In contrast, King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) of Seattle, USA serves 17 cities, 17 local sewer districts, and approximately 1.7 million residents. King County WTD is a used water agency responsible for ensuring the protection of public health, the environment, and the economy to its service area of King County and parts of south Snohomish County and northeast Pierce County. Its extensive experience in working with wastewater utility operators in developing countries particularly on areas covering wastewater system development and management made the twinning partnership a good fit.
One of King County’s first impressions was the eagerness of Quang Binh staff to do well. In addition, they were pleased to see how well they have done thus far, and not only with their own operations but also in helping out the community, such as in times of flooding. This desire to do well made King County believe that Quang Binh can do great things and can even serve as mentor to other utilities in Viet Nam.
While the sewer network and treatment plant were relatively new, Quang Binh operators needed guidance on how to optimize their assets and how to move from a reactive mode of maintenance to one that is preventive. Unaware of how to go about establishing an asset management system, Quang Binh operators looked to King County counterparts to train them on how to initiate, implement, and sustain such a system.
To this end, an asset management inventory workshop was first conducted and it was an unqualified success. URENCO staff exhibited a high level of enthusiasm, understanding, and commitment in seeing through the successful completion of the sessions and move on to the next steps toward creating their own asset management program.
Other activities undertaken covered the review of contract specifications and a discussion on areas for improvement regarding URENCO’s planned facility expansion and current operation of the Dong Hoi water treatment plant.
In late July 2016, one of the highlights of the site visit of WTD experts to Dong Hoi included the demonstration on the use of a commercial computerized maintenance management system software (MaintSmart) for asset management. This eventually paved the way for the procurement and training of Quang Binh URENCO staff on the use of the asset management program.
This water operators partnership (WOP) is consistent with Quang Binh URENCO’s goal of being considered as a leader in selecting appropriate technology aligned with its community commitments and financial capability. It currently hosts frequent tours and numerous inquiries from its peer in-country agencies.
Planned reciprocal visits in the future will expand on the extensive progress already made during the partnership. A second visit by URENCO operating staff to King County will emphasize continued training on the asset management program MaintSmart and an in-depth review of laboratory management and practices. The final visit by WTD to Dong Hoi will focus on the importance of community engagement and planning for next steps in the evolution of the asset monitoring and maintenance program. The partnership arrangement is still ongoing and the fi nal mentor visit to the city is expected to be conducted in the last week of April 2017.