AUTHORITIES ADMIT THAT |PROBLEM WON’T BE SOLVED FOR ANOTHER MONTH
FLOODING in the Chi River Basin has been equal to or worse than the major flood of 2011, with people along the river suffering from a continuing inundation of water since July, and partly due to the Ubonrat Dam in Khon Kaen having to increase its water discharge and causing major flooding downstream.
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has also conceded that flooding in the Northeast will not be resolved until next month.
RID announced yesterday that the water discharge from Ubonrat Dam must be increased from 50 million cubic metres per day to 54 million cubic metres in order to relieve the flood situation upstream and ensure the dam’s safety. RID admitted that the rising water discharge would increase the water level in Phong River by an additional 30 centimetres and in Chi River by 10 centimetres.
A comparison of water storage in Ubonrat Dam this year and on October 20, 2011, found that the storage level now was more critical than in 2011. The dam yesterday had total water storage at 121 per cent of total capacity, compared to 118 per cent in 2011. Water discharge in 2011 was 47.76 million cubic metres, compared to 50 million cubic metres today.
According to RID, some 289,797 rai (46,368 hectares) of land in Chi River has been affected by floods. Many local people, who have endured the flood situation for several months, have complained of insufficient toilet facilities.
Pricha Janthong, head of Regional Irrigation Office 6, said the office decided to increase the water discharge from Ubonrat Dam to prevent further flood damage above the dam and to ensure dam safety. Water inflow into the dam’s reservoir was also higher than water discharge.
Pricha noted that the office has warned local authorities along the Phong and Chi rivers to brace for more water and to reinforce flood prevention measures ahead of its arrival.
RID said the water inflow to the dam’s reservoir yesterday was 77.97 million cubic metres, higher than the water outflow. At this rate, the reservoir’s water level would increase one centimetre every three hours.
“This year’s water situation in Chi River Basin is very critical for us, as normally the area receives around 1,300 to 1,400 millimetres of precipitation per year, but from April until now Chi River Basin has already receive up to 1,700 millimetres of rain,” Pricha said.
He also noted that within the last six months, Ubonrat Dam had received total water inflow of more than 4 billion cubic metres of water.
RID will have to maintain an increased water discharge until the water inflow is lowered. The water discharge rate could be reduced within the next month, with the flood situation in Chi River Basin starting to resolve from mid-November onward, he predicted.
It has been reported from flood affected areas in Khon Kaen that local people were very worried about the news of more water discharge from Ubonrat Dam and many were preparing for evacuation.
At Na Phiang Village in Tambon Samran, Muang Khon Kaen District, people rushed to reinforce walls of sandbags in preparation for increased water flows in the Phong River. Some areas of the community are already under one metre of floodwater.
Many flood victims have publicly spoken of their need for food and drink. Mobile toilets are also needed, after household facilities were flooded and unusable.
Meanwhile, Khon Kaen Governor Somsak Jungtrakoon said he had already ordered local authorities to assist flood victims by providing boats to transport food and drink and other necessary commodities, because many people were still living on the second floor of their houses.
Meanwhile, the province has provided temporary tents and toilets for the flood refugees, who have sought shelter at high ground in order to enjoy more hygienic conditions and prevent being exposed to water-borne contagious diseases.