Recently the Vietnamese government has endorsed a long-term policy plan in which it is proposed to restore controlled seasonal flooding in the upper regions of the Vietnamese part of the Mekong delta. Restoring controlled flooding would contrast a period of several decades characterized by a dominant flood prevention approach to enable intensive rice production in the delta. This article investigates a series of long-term policy plans, which have been developed for the Mekong delta since the 1960s, on their take on flood control sensu flood prevention, or the opposite, controlled seasonal flooding. By doing so it is demonstrated how perspectives on flood management have gradually evolved and, in the specific case of suggesting controlled flooding, have been framed in various ways by various actors. Contemporary proposals for controlled seasonal flooding are supported by actors ranging from governmental institutes to environmental NGOs, and connect to on-going debates about environmental challenges and sustainable development of the Mekong delta. We adopt a systems approach to analyze social, environmental and technological dynamics in the Mekong delta, and discuss whether the different interpretations of controlled flooding may contribute to the long-term sustainability of the delta.