Nearly 20 years ago, I met a material scientist. He went to my office - an environmental technology center - to ask for cooperation because he thought that flooding in Ho Chi Minh City was caused by rain water not being effectively managed.

His idea was to use a composite assembled tank to store rainwater. If every office and household were equipped with these tanks, the city would no longer be flooded. His enthusiastic presentation persuaded a newspaper to publish an article about this innovative solution titled "The Rain-locked Person".

Although I doubt the effectiveness, my boss also admires cooperative research. I was tasked with assisting the scientist with experimenting with the solution. The scene is a wide yard angle in the office. "Rain-locked people" use five composite panels assembled into a rectangular tub, reinforced with iron outside. He spread the canvas on the inside of the tub to keep the water from leaking out. Above the tub without a lid, wait for rain to "lock in".

One afternoon at the end of July, the sky was dark and the clouds danced. Rain rushing down. In the yard and in the tub, water gradually rose. From my office to the main road, the water besieged all sides. The tub with the blue canvas is resting in a corner "falling" in the vast sea. Of course there is no clear effect on flood reduction. When the weather stopped, the "rain-locked person" still held his knees and sighed silently. I laughed and said, "Today you got locked up by the rain." He argued, "Don't you see that you have locked the rain in the corner of the yard? If those tanks were filled with the city, where would the rain run?"

I know he argued only that way, because he could not explain how to equip each household and workplace such tanks in the context of crowded land. After that afternoon, I didn't see the scientist come back. The tub remained in the corner of the yard, through the rainy and rainy seasons, it was warped and rotten.

The idea of ​​"capturing the rain" has become a thing of the past, after 20 years, history repeats itself with the idea of ​​using flood control jars.

Since ancient times, his father used a jar, a tank to store rainwater for long-term use because of the scarce clean water, but never to prevent flooding. In urban infrastructure design and construction, effective rainwater management is an important requirement. The management and use of rainwater is also a criterion for evaluating green architecture according to LEED standards set by the US Green Building Council, which is the leading international standard for energy-saving buildings and maintenance. environmental protection. IFC's EDGE certification system - a global voluntary certification system for efficient resource use in many countries - also sets stormwater management criteria.

Following sustainable urban trends, rainwater is encouraged to reduce water demand and conserve resources. Flood reduction, if any, is only a consequence of rainwater collection, not the main purpose.

To thoroughly solve the problem, the logic is to clarify the root cause before proposing a solution. If not, the idea is that the solution creates more complex implications. Unfortunately, more and more "solutions" such as composite tanks or flood-proofing tanks are proposed, but few go into the root cause.

Although people are tired of the topic of flood protection, the "law of conservation of flooding" is still true not only for Ho Chi Minh City but also for big cities: flooding does not generate itself and does not disappear. from one place to another. The reasons are actually not new, that is the situation of a few people against the flood, or anti-flood protection investment is both ineffective and ineffective, flood control planning - as well as many other planning - only hero soul on paper. We still see that flood control units keep flooding, clogging sewers, while the transport industry, construction units, post offices, and telecommunications compete to create concrete surfaces.

Apartments sprung up. Ponds, lakes, rivers and canals are continuously leveled. Garbage is everywhere. At this rate, the topic of flood protection is always current until our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren.

And yet, even though the plans, solutions and ideas are always aimed at positive goals, but when they come into practice, there is a problem, not only limited to technical, financial and administrative expertise but also due to the Non-professional interventions distort the original positive intent. Thu Thiem planning and Ho Chi Minh City drainage planning are specific examples. If you search for "anti solution" types, you will have millions of results.

The situation of "hundreds of flowers blooming" about the solution shows that many leaders and organizations want to participate in solving social problems. But the very outbreak of the solution also shows the impasse of the public system in meeting the expectations of the people. It also shows the inability of regulators to prevent flooding - active governance to prevent or minimize flooding before the rain comes. In practice, managers can apply passive and proactive governance simultaneously. But a system that is too prone to passive governance will be unstable and consume a lot of resources to follow the problem and solve the consequences. On the contrary, active governance, if focused, will always be available to prevent and control problems.

It is contradictory that when more and more "anti-solutions" emerge, the management of rainwater becomes even more deadlock.

Nguyen Dang Anh Thi