Irrigation chief sees no threat of 2011 Bangkok flood calamity repeating itself
THERE IS no risk of Bangkok, other central provinces and their industrial estates suffering flooding as severe as that which caused chaos in the city in 2011, according to the Royal Irrigation Department.
“Don’t worry. Major dams are not even half full now,” the department’s director-general Suthep Noipairoj said yesterday.
He pointed out that although the Kwai Noi and Pasak Jolasid dams were releasing water, the big Bhumibol and Sirikit dams could take in more water. “Bhumibol Dam is only 44 per cent full,” he said.
He added that the water volume flowing past the Bang Sai station in Ayutthaya yesterday was just at 1,800 cubic metres per second, far less than the 3,900 cubic metres in early October 2011.
“The Chao Phraya River can accommodate up to 3,500 cubic metres of water without overflowing,” he explained. He said many water-retention areas in the Central region were also ready to take in run-off water if required.
Suthep said that while some areas in the Chao Phraya Basin were now flooded, most were in flood-prone areas or outside embankment zones.
His department has now issued early warnings to people living in low-lying zones along the Chao Phraya River and Pasak River in Uthai Thani, Chainai Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Angthong, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Suphan Buri provinces to brace for overflowing.
Sompong Wiangkaew, who heads the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Drainage and Sewerage Department, said there was no need for Bangkok residents to worry about floods as big as the ones in 2011.
Five years ago, run-off water from the upper part of the country swamped many districts in Bangkok. Even Don Mueang Airport was under water.
In 2011, the run-offs were massive in the wake of five storms – Haima, Nock-Ten, Hai Tang, Nesat and Nalgae. “We are in far different situations now,” Sompong said.
He said recent floods in Bangkok took place because of continued downpours.
“The BMA can drain rainwater from public roads within four hours,” he said. “We are also trying to solve flood-prone spots such as areas bordering Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi by installing pumps there.”
Interior Ministry permanent secretary Kritsada Boonrat, meanwhile, instructed provincial governors, district chiefs, kamnans, village heads and executives of local administrative organisations to work closely with their province’s single command for water management.
“In the event that some areas must be used to retain excess water to prevent flooding in some important zones, officials must communicate with the affected people to create mutual understanding and specify clearly what remedial actions they will get,” Kritsada’s order said.
In Angthong, Sawaengha district chief Thitilak Saeng-ngarm said more than 2,000 rai (320 hectares) of farmland in her area had been hit by floods. “We are using pumps to cushion farmers from adverse impacts,” she said.
Local farmers are now racing against time to try to harvest their crops before they get completely swamped.
Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said floods had hit many historical sites in the country including the famous Chaiwatthanaram Temple in Ayutthaya, “but the impacts are not critical”.