North floods ease but drought threat looms

national September 18, 2016 01:00

By THE SUNDAY NATION

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FLOODWATERS have receded in the North, but the threat of drought looms in many other areas across the country with 12 dams at less than 30 per cent capacity.



Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd stated yesterday that flooding in the North had improved after floodwaters in Sukhothai and Phetchabun provinces receded. But he said some places still had high water levels, although the situation would return to normal in a few days if there were no more significant rains.
“The high amount of rains in recent weeks caused the rivers in the North to burst their banks and flood many areas, including downtown Sukhothai. However, due to the hardworking personnel in the field, the floodwater in Sukhothai has already been drained and the clean-up operation will begin soon,” Sansern said.
He revealed that the floodwater in Phetchabun receded on Friday. 
He said there was still flooding in areas such as Phitsanulok’s Phrom Phiram district, where five tambons were inundated with between 30-50 centimetres of water yesterday.
“The worst has passed, as the Ra-I storm has already entered Myanmar and if there is no further rain in the next few days, the situation will come back to normal in all areas,” he said.
“Nonetheless, the prime minister has ordered all relevant agencies to closely monitor the situation and he instructed every province that if they want to drain floodwater, they have to inform the provinces downstream first to prevent people downstream from being flooded,” he said.
Sukhothai Governor Piti Kaewsalabsri stated that the province had suffered a large amount of damage from the flood on Thursday, with the preliminary report showing that some 1,300 families, or around 60,000 people in eight communities in the city centre, were affected. The damage to agricultural areas was yet to be determined, Piti said.
“The flood has already receded in the city centre, but we are still concerned about the possibility of another flood, because the riverbank in the city centre is very moist and could easily collapse. So we are still on high alert until the end of rainy season,” Piti said.
Commenting on the city’s flood-prevention plan, he revealed that the authorities would prepare some low-lying land to be flood areas to save other parts of the city. He added that the city was set to undergo a big clean-up.
In Nakhon Ratchasima province, the situation was totally different. Lam Takhong Irrigation and Maintenance Project director Suthiroj Kongkaew revealed that the available water in the Lam Takhong Dam would be enough for only four months.
Suthiroj said there was only 61.509 million cubic metres of water in the dam, or 20 per cent capacity, which was considerably lower than the average level.
“The water inflow to the dam is less than we expected, but we hope that from now until the end of October, there will be more rain,” he said.
He disclosed that the dam had reduced its water discharge to 432,000 cubic metres per day and provincial authorities had contacted the Northeastern Region Royal Rainmaking Operation Centre to implement an artificial rain operation. He asked people in the province to use the water wisely.
According to the Royal Irrigation Department, 12 reservoirs across the country are operating at less than 30 per cent capacity. Most of them are in the Northeast and the South.
 

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