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Straightening rivers to prevent flooding

This is the time of year when many people, especially Thais, contemplate flooding and solutions to flooding.

One such solution is straightening the rivers, which can increase their flow and empty them of floodwater faster. On Australia's Lower Yarra River, straightening began in 1879, on the Don River in Canada in 1886 and on Scotland's River Clyde after 1759 and up to 1836. The British rivers Cuckmere, Tees and Tone have been straightened. The Netherlands straightened the Regge several times.

In the US it was applied to the Duwamish in 1913, the Chicago River in 1929 and the Bronx River in the 1930s (even once in the 1840s). The Kissimmee River was straightened between 1962 and '70, shortening a 166km stretch to 90km.

The Chao Phraya has one of the tightest series of bends of any major world river (near and at Klong Toei). Straightening it here would release floodwater to the sea faster.

Guy Baker


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