No respite from flooding

national October 05, 2016 01:00

By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM,

TANATPONG KONGSAI

THE NATION

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Capital’s chronic problems created by insufficient pumping and drainage.



BANGKOK RESIDENTS will have to continue enduring floods this year as an improved prevention system will not be in place until next year, though the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has said it is doing what it can to ease the problem. 
Heavy rain in Bangkok on Monday left 17 locations in the capital submerged in water, which caused major traffic jams across the city. It took nearly 10 hours to drain some streets. 
Sucharit Koontanakulvong, chief of Chulalongkorn University’s Water Resource Engineering, said that flooding was a chronic problem in Bangkok and could not be solved easily.
“Bangkok has a lot of water drainage problems, especially now because pumping stations in the Prem Prachakorn Canal are still being repaired and cannot efficiently drain the water into the river,” he said. 
“The Bangkok drainage system can also only handle rain of up to 60 millimetres and the system will not be upgraded in time to deal with the heavy downpours expected soon. So, people have no choice but to live in flooded conditions this year,” Sucharit said. 
Bangkok’s key roads were flooded and traffic was backed up for several hours nearly every night this week. 
Drainage and Sewerage director Sompong Wiangkaew said the BMA has done what it can to solve the problem but complained that there were many obstructions. 
“The Monday downpour was very heavy and it rained very hard in the North of Bangkok where many flood-risk areas are situated, such as Ngam Wong Wan Road and Chaeng Wattana Road. 
“This, combined with the fact that water cannot be drained properly through Prem Prachakorn Canal, caused serious flooding in these areas,” Sompong said. 
He added that the BMA has the ability to drain 70 millimetres of rain water in two hours, but |the downpour in northern Bangkok on Monday exceeded 100mm, so |it took more time to drain the |water.
 
New drains planned
The BMA took almost 10 hours to drain floods on Ngam Wong Wan Road and 10 of the 17 flooded |areas took more than two hours to drain. 
“The main reason behind the slowness of water drainage is that pipes are small and most cannot drain water properly because there is garbage inside. 
“This is worsened by the low drainage ability of the canals, as some canals are small and shallow due to encroachment,” he said.
“Many flood-prone areas such as Ngam Wong Wan Road are low areas and jam packed. 
“We cannot place water pumps in these areas, because they will obstruct the traffic. 
“Hence, we can only install portable pumps during flooding,” he added. 
He emphasised that every BMA officer worked through the night to mitigate the flooding and even though no new Bangkok governor has been appointed, everybody is doing their job properly. 
Sucharit suggested that the BMA could improve the drainage system by enhancing water flow from canals towards the river, because the drainage system is unable to handle the current rain pattern in Bangkok. 
Sompong said that the BMA was already planning to install new drains under the road in 11 flood-prone areas for a total budget of Bt2 billion. 
He said the new pipe would be bigger with a dimension of 1.8 metres. 
“This pipe will better drain flood waters from the road to the canal, which will greatly ease the situation when there is heavy rain. 
“The government has already allocated Bt440 million for the project and the new pipes will be ready within two years,” he said. 

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