Govt promises no repeat of 2011 flood
Better defences now in place, says official
The government yesterday assured the public there will be no repeat of 2011’s severe flooding, saying the volume of excess water is far less this year and that more effective flood-prevention measures are in place.
On Wednesday, the total volume of water in all the main dams in the North was recorded at 18.3 billion cubic metres, while the total volume of water in the same dams recorded on Oct 11, 2011 was up to 24.4 billion cubic metres, said Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, government spokesman.
The total volume of water in all main dams in the Central Plains was 1.2 billion cubic metres, compared to the 1.3 billion cubic metres of water in the same dams on Oct 11, 2011, he said.
As the northern run-off continues to arrive in the Central Plains, the royal irrigation authorities now need to release more water from the dams but in a manner that will least affect the areas along the rivers which serve as run-off paths, he said.
In his response to growing concerns over possible floods in 10 flood-prone districts of Bangkok, Lt Gen Sansern said the water-release rate at the Bang Sai sluice gate, where the northern water enters Bangkok, is now kept at 2,200 cubic metres per second.
During the 2011 floods, more than 4,000 cubic metres of water ran through the sluice gate per second, despite its maximum water release capacity being 3,500 cubic metres per second, he said.
“The prime minister has stressed to the Interior Ministry that the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, the military units and the local administrative bodies have to speed up their flood-relief operations in the affected areas,” the government spokesman said.
In Ayutthaya, provincial governor Sujin Chaichumsak said the province is implementing flood-prevention measures around the clock, in a bid to save the province’s old town areas from fresh flooding.
Earthen dykes and flood walls made of sandbags in the most flood-prone spots were being fortified to keep up with the rising water levels, said Mr Sujin.
Evacuations were being carried out in low-lying communities in six districts of Ayutthaya as flood-relief supplies were being transported into the affected areas, Mr Sujin added.
People living in or near seven fields covering 600,000 rai designated for flood retention have been given prior information about flood draining procedures to prevent conflicts that may erupt if these affected groups were ill-informed, he said.
In the northern province of Chai Nat, villagers in three tambons of Sapphaya district who have been affected by overwhelming northern run-off floods lamented the poor communications between the affected residents and the royal irrigation authorities responsible for releasing water from the dams.
They said the royal irrigation authorities should have alerted them in advance about the water discharge time and the expected levels of excess water.
More importantly, these villagers begged irrigation authorities not to discharge water at a rate in excess of 2,600 cubic metres per second as this rate equates to the discharge level which caused the 2011 floods.
Aside from the North and the Central Plains, the rising water volume in the main dams in the Northeast is also prompting authorities to speed up their discharge of excess water.
The royal irrigation office operating the Ubol Ratana Dam requested permission from the Khon Kaen provincial committee on water management to increase the discharge rate from 35-37 million cubic metres to 45-68 million cubic metres daily to create more space as the dam was at capacity, Khon Kaen provincial governor Somsak Jangtrakul said.
The water committee yesterday allowed the office to discharge water from the dam at 45 million cubic metres per day.
Higher than that level, said Mr Somsak, would trigger serious floods in more than 150,000 rai of farmland in three districts, he said.
A community in Chai Nat’s Sapphaya district is submerged after the Chao Phraya barrage released more water to make room for additional rainfall and run-off. Local residents say the flooding caught them off guard because the authorities increased the water-release rate without any warning.