A SPECIAL monitoring centre is to be set up today to keep a close watch on the water levels of dams across the Northeast around the clock, as concern grows over 50 medium-sized dams that are now filled beyond capacity, Somkiat Prajamwong, secretary-general at the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR), said yesterday.
Meanwhile the chief of the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), Thongplew Kongchan, declared that “there will be no repeat this year of the great floods of 2011”.
The centre will be housed at the RID head office to analyse the inflows and outflows from 50 dams as they seek to keep the level in balance and ensure all agencies are on the same page, ONWR chief Somkiat said. In addition, local administrative bodies would monitor about 1,000 small reservoirs in their jurisdictions, he said.
Somkiat admitted that some major dams in the country’s upper part including the Northeast, Central and West now contained a higher level of water than was the case prior to the devastating 2011 floods, but insisted the water levels remained under control.
The five major dams currently containing more water than in 2011 are: Nam Un Dam in Sakhon Nakhon province (98 per cent of capacity compared to 51 per cent in 2011); Srinakarin Dam in Kanchanaburi province (86 per cent of capacity compared to 73 per cent in 2011); Vajiralongkorn Dam also in Kanchanaburi (82 per cent of capacity compared to 60 per cent in 2011); Kaeng Krachan Dam in Phetchaburi province (92 per cent of capacity compared to 49 per cent in 2011); and Pranburi Dam in Prachuap Khiri Khan province (80 per cent of capacity compared to 24 per cent in 2011).
With weather forecasts predicting incoming storms in mid-August, Somkiat said a meeting on Wednesday took stock of the water situation at 11 large reservoirs. It was decided that there was a need to release water from those reservoirs, which were now beyond 80 to 90 per cent of their capacities.
Kaeng Krachan dams
Somkiat said the Nam Un and Kaeng Krachan dams must release an increased rate of water over the next five days, as instructed by Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya. As well, the concerned provincial governors and disaster prevention offices must be informed three days in advance so they could prepare to handle the impacts on downstream residents, he said. “If the water level were critical, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha would issue instructions. But the situation now was at ‘yellow” status, calling for preparations,” said Somkiat, who heads an agency created directly under the Prime Minister’s command to oversee an integrated water management plan.
Somkiat said Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom provinces faced the prospect of Mekong River levels rising by 70 centimetres to one metre due to runoff from China and Laos. Thai authorities would contact their counterparts in the two countries for updates on water volumes so that Thai provincial governors could warn their residents accordingly.
Meanwhile, RID chief Thongplew said his agency and related agencies were releasing water from medium- and small-sized reservoirs in the Northeast that were brimming. Siphoning pipes were also installed at some of these sites to divert water to other watercourses, he added.
Lam Pao Dam
Sakhon Nakhon’s Nam Un Dam has released water to Mekong River via a canal, while Kalasin’s Lam Pao Dam has released water via Lam Nam Pao and Lam Nam Chi canals to the same river, he said. The RID also dispatched pumps to assist Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Ubol Ratchathani provinces.
Thongplew said eight water pumps were installed at Nakhon Phanom’s Thoranit Narumit floodgate and two more pumps at the Nong Bung floodgate, while all panes had been lifted at the floodgates since July to drain water from Lam Nam Kam into Mekong River.
However, another report said Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom continued to rise yesterday due to Wednesday night’s rains, reducing the drainage offered by rising tributary canals, especially Lam Nam Kam and Lam Nam Bang, with over 130,000 rai (20,800 hectares) of farmland already submerged.
As of 8am yesterday, the Mekong was measured at 12.25 metres, about 25cm beyond the critical point and was only 75cm from the banks.
Up North, only Nan was in a worrisome state with heavy rains that posed threats of more flooding, Thongplew said. The RID had implemented a plan for systematic water release until September for the western provinces, including Kanchanaburi and Ranong, he said.
Kaeng Krachan Dam now had 10 siphoning pipes to help drainage, expected to stabilise the situation within two days, and the Smart Water Operation Centre had predicted the dam level would be at 92 per cent of capacity until September, he said.
As local bodies were assigned to monitor small-sized reservoirs, RID had also been mentoring them and had prepared needed manpower and tool supports, Thongplew said.
Published : August 02, 2018
By : THE NATION