BMA district offices told to clear sluice gates to tackle floods

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hands out relief bags to flood-affected |residents during his visit to Ayutthaya’s Sena district yesterday.

October 06, 2016 01:00

By Tanatpong Kongsai,
Samrit Jiamcharoenpornkul
The Nation

BANGKOK Metropolitan Administration (BMA) offices in the districts of Don Muang, Lak Si, Sai Mai, Bang Khen and Chatuchak were told to remove obstacles that blocked water drainage via the Bang Khen, Bang Pho and Bang Sue sluice gates, deputy governor Amor


These sluice gates have a combined capacity to drain 14 million cubic metres of water via the Klong Premprachakorn canal, but floodwaters cannot reach the gates due to many obstacles on the way, he said.
This short-term solution was assigned to the five district offices and the BMA Department of Drainage and Sewerage at a meeting on Tuesday following severe flooding, especially in northern Bangkok, on Monday, he said. The floods were triggered by more than 140 millimetres of rain.
Though most flooded areas were cleared by 4 to 7pm, Amorn said Chaeng Wattana Road, Ngam Wong Wan Road and Tesabansongkhro posed particular difficulties.
As a long-term solution, the department will build the 13.5km-long Premprachakorn Drainage Tunnel, he said. The other drainage tunnel at Klong Bang Sue, set to be completed next March, will help remove some water that would otherwise pour into Klong Premprachakorn, he said, so flooding in the North of Bangkok should be less next year.
Meanwhile, the Bangkok City Council yesterday pressed BMA executives to come up with a plan to tackle rainfall, northern runoffs and seasonal inflow of seawater.
Amorn told the council that temporary barriers would be built in two spots outside the already existing flood barriers along the Chao Phraya River and the BMA would work with the Royal Irrigation Department to implement flood-tackling measures.
In the meantime, acting BMA permanent secretary Ratchaneewan Assawathitanon inspected the flood-prone area between Soi Bearing and Soi Lasalle as well as Sukhumvit Soi 39.
In Ayutthaya’s Sena district, 2,000 villagers welcomed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as he visited flood-affected residents in Tambon Ban Pan yesterday.
He said his visit to Ayutthaya and later to Chai Nat province was to ensure people could prepare for the future and farmers would have a better quality of life. He added that water management was a nationwide issue that required a balanced management approach, otherwise the capital would be flooded again. The premier also said that some people have to make sacrifices for the sake of the majority.
Prayut added that water-management authorities would see which areas should be used for flood drainage and affected farmers would be compensated according to the damages incurred. He also said that the renting of rice fields was being regulated to stop investors taking advantage of farmers.
Yesterday, the Meteorological Department warned that persistent rainfall was likely in Upper Thailand with isolated heavy thundershowers in most areas apart from the coast on the Southeast. Bangkok and its vicinity face isolated heavy showers in the afternoon and evening, the department said.
In Nonthaburi’s Muang district, residents of Prachaniwet 3 housing estate called on the authorities to help ease flooding caused by clogged drains.
Long-time resident Suang Khrangthamniam, 76, explained that the estate has been suffering from frequent floods since a wastewater treatment facility was built at the site of a 17-rai pond, which used to retain floodwater.
“An hour of rain can lead to 40-centimetre-deep floods and it takes eight hours to drain. We want the Nakhon Nonthaburi Municipality to resolve this problem,” she said.
Mayor Somneuk Thanadechakul said the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi was rising due to runoffs of 1,500 cubic metres per second and sandbag barriers have been piled up to counter this.
Persistent heavy rain has caused flooding in low areas including Prachaniwet 2, 3 and 4 housing estates, he said, and pumps were installed at heavily flooded spots with 40 more set aside as back-up.
It took four hours to drain floods caused by two hours of heavy rain because the river was so high that they could not open sluice gates, he said.


No respite from flooding

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October 05, 2016 01:00

No fear of flooding crisis, top official says

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September 29, 2016 01:00
By Chularat Saengpassa
The Nation

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”.

Storm warnings for October

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STORMS forecast for next month; authorities plan to raise water release from Chao Phraya dam and use water retention basins
to ease floods

THAIS IN Central Region could face more severe flooding, with four storms expected to hit the country next month while the Irrigation Department has prepared measures to cope with the expected deluge.

The measures being drawn up by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) include increasing discharge and opening up room for storage in retention basins.

Many areas along the Chao Phraya River, such as in Lop Buri, Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani, have already been flooded, RID director-general Suthep Noipairoj said yesterday.

He said that the department planned to further increase water discharge from the Chao Phraya Dam and was considering delaying the use of retention basins for water storage.

“We already have plans to manage the water during this flood season, as we are only discharging water from Bhumipol Dam for 1 million cubic metres per day and and Sirikit Dam for two million cubic metres per day,” Suthep said.

“However, we have to increase discharge from Chao Phraya Dam to 2,000 cubic metres per second to prepare for the upcoming rain in October,” Suthep explained.

He said that although these decisions will worsen flooding in the areas that have already been submerged, people should endure the flooding for the sake of the majority.

“The people who live along Chao Phraya River have been living with the water for very long time. They can adapt their lives during the floods, so there should be no problem. I assure that only the communities in low-lying land near the river will be flooded, but the rest of farmland and the city will be well protected,” he said.

Amid criticism that the department had not opened the retention basins to mitigate the current floods, RID deputy director-general Thongplew Kongjun explained that it was not yet time to use this measure because more rain will come in October when there will still be many unharvested rice crops.

“We have agreements with the local farmers to let them harvest their crops first before we can let the water flood their farms. It is estimated that all crops will be harvested by the end of September and October is the peak month for flooding, so we have to spare these lands for floodwater storage at that time,” Thongplew said.

“If we stored the water in these retention basins right now, there would be no space to keep the floodwater next month and there would be large-scale floods.”

Meanwhile, Wattana Kanbua, senior meteorologist and Marine Meteorological Centre director, confirmed that the rainy season should last until late October, with four more storms approaching Thailand during next month.

“This year’s rain pattern is normal, but most people think that this rainy season is heavier because they compare it to last year’s situation, when there was drought. From the information to hand, I can say that it will be still rainy across Northern, North Eastern and Central Region of Thailand during next month, with four more storms arriving,” Wattana said. He said that although there would be more storms, these were not of serious concern although they would affect the monsoon trough over Thailand.

“Right now, the monsoon trough is over Central Region and it will keep travelling south during the next months. But the storms will make it unstable and may last longer in this area, which will increase the potential for flooding,” he said.However, he denied the connection of the increase rain in Thailand recently with the global climate pattern of La Nina or El Nino and insisted that it was only the local scale weather pattern.


Governors ordered to set up flood prevention and assistance centres

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The Interior Ministry yesterday ordered governors of provinces nationwide except in the South to set up flood prevention and alleviation centres to deal with ongoing flooding in many provinces.The order was issued by Interior Ministry permanent secretary Krissada Boonraj.

Krissada stated in the order that floodwaters from the Yom River basin and Ping River basin had moved downstream to the Chao Phraya River basin down in Chainat, Lop Buri and Angthong.

He said many provinces were experiencing two types of floods – runoff triggered by heavy downpours and the bloated Chao Phraya bursting its banks.The order asked provincial adminis¬trations to set up flood prevention and alleviation command centres so that assistance could be sent to flood victims urgently.

Krissada also instructed the provincial governors, district chiefs, tambon and village leaders to frequently check the water situation in their jurisdiction and visit local people frequently so that help could be sent out in time.The provincial administration officials were also instructed to closely coordinate with the local offices of the Irrigation Department and the Meteorological Department so that they could effectively manage water flows through the opening and closing of flood sluice gates to cope with the current flood situation.

Provinces that have not been hit by floods were ordered to monitor the situation closely and to coordinate with other agencies by using information technology to assess the situation so that local people could be warned in time if the provinces were in danger of flooding.

Krissada also instructed the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Deparment to coordinate will all provinces and other government agencies concerned to provide water pumps for draining the floodwaters.At Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi’s Pakkret district, heavy downpours since Saturday night caused the last community area to be inundated in 70cm deep water.The floods made the roads in the large housing estate impassable, affecting more than 1,000 residents of the area as well as students of Sukhothai Thammathiraj Open University who attended the rehearsal of their graduation ceremony.

Por Tek Tueng Foundation workers had to use five trucks to shuttle the students and residents of the estate.Meanwhile, the Chao Phraya burst its banks to flood the Pamok district market in Angthong yesterday. The administration said at least 420 houses in Pamok, Muang Angthong, and Wiset Chaicharn districts were hit by floods.


Flood barrier bid to protect ancient Ayutthaya temple

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AUTHORITIES are preparing to set up an emergency flood-prevention barrier to protect the ancient Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple in Ayutthaya province as heavy rains continue to lash Thailand.

Fine Arts Office 3 director Pratheep Pengtako said the Chao Phraya River was now only one metre below bursting its banks at the location of the Unesco World Heritage Site.

He said the department was preparing to set up a flood-preventing barrier to protect a key ancient site.

Due to rains and northern runoffs, the Chao Phraya Dam has released 1,500 cubic metres of water per second, resulting in the river rising, which is posing a serious flood threat to the world-renowned site.

Officials were also preparing to set up a fence, reinforced by sandbags and covered with waterproof canvas, to form a 2.5-metre-high and three-metre-long flood barrier at the area of the temple nearest the riverfront, he added.

In Ban Ban district, farmers raising fish in riverside floating baskets were hit by the rising waters. Retired soldier Captain Jaroon Naksilp said his 120,000 ruby fish in 60 floating baskets were destroyed by strong torrents before he could harvest and sell them.

Chao Phraya River overflowed in Ang Thong’s Pa Moke district which led to flooding at Wat Sa Kaew where monks and volunteers built sandbag barriers around rice that was being stored for orphans.

Provincial governor Weerawut Putrasreni yesterday inspected flood-risk areas along the river in Pa Moke, Muang and Chaiyo districts. The most risky was Pa Moke’s Tambon Phong Pheng, as the province’s lowest point and sections had already given way to torrents. Some 20 per cent of the surveyed 40km-long riverbanks were at risk, Weerawut said. He instructed officials to tell residents to move belongings to high ground and prepare boats and other tools to aid victims.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department announced officials were aiding residents in flood and landslide-hit Chaiyaphum, Phang Nga, Kamphaeng Phet, Phetchabun, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Nong Bua Lam Phu and said that 23 districts in seven provinces had so far been declared as flood disaster zones.

Meanwhile, eastbound trains from Bangkok suffered a two-hour delay yesterday due to floods inundating a track section between Bangkok’s Makkasan and Klongtan stations. Chachoengsao Train Station head Natthakan Meesomya urged commuters to use other transport.

In Samut Prakan province, overnight downpours led to up to 20cm-deep flood and traffic jams on many roads yesterday including the six-kilometre-long Soi Baring.

Continuous rain in Krabi’s Ao Luk district prompted Than Bok Khorani National Park to bar tourists from entering its famous waterfall for the second day yesterday, while some farmland and two roads in the district were also flooded.


Interior Ministry warns of continued flooding, more rainfall

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INTERIOR MINISTER General Anupong Paojinda has ordered personnel and equipment to reinforce efforts to help flood victims in the North, particularly in hard-hit Phayao and Nan provinces, while also warning residents in the downstream provinces of Phitsanulok and Sukhothai to brace for possible flooding from the Yom and Nan rivers.

The weather bureau has forecast more heavy rainfall in the North and Northeast tomorrow and Saturday.

Anupong said the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department and provincial agencies were formulating plans to alert at-risk residents of possible flooding and landslides as well as preparing for evacuation and flood-relief measures.

He added that he did not think that flooding would exceed 2011 levels.

In Nan’s Muang district, floodwater continued to recede allowing residents to begin repairing the damage. Staff of the Ban Don School (Sriserm Kasikorn), which has been closed since Monday due to flooding, also began to clean up the premises.


In Phichit province, the Yom River reportedly rose by as much as 20 centimetres per day, prompting officials to monitor the situation in low-lying flood-prone areas such as Tambon Rang Nok in Sam Ngam and Tambon Bang Lai in Bung Narang district.

Bangkok braces for flooding

In Phitsanulok, water levels in the Nan and Yom rivers were still normal. Chamnan Chutiang, head of the irrigation project in the Yan and Nom rivers, said runoff from upstream would reach Sukhothai’s Sri Satchanalai district tomorrow and Phitsanulok’s Phrom Piram and Bang Rakam districts on Saturday.

Authorities project that the flow of water by then would drop to less than 1,100 cubic metres per second, allowing them to divert some of the flow to Sukhothai City and via the Ban Hat Saphan Chan sluice gate.

Authorities have alerted local communities to prepare for flooding ahead of the forecast rainfall tomorrow and Saturday, Anupong said.

In a related development, the Mekong River in Nong Khai has risen by as much as one metre per day, prompting local authorities to monitor the situation as water levels are just two metres below the riverbank. Muang Nong Khai Municipality is preparing to close sluice gates and activate water pumps to prevent flooding in the city.

Meanwhile, Adisak Khantee, adviser to the governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), said runoff from the North would pass through Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Lop Buri in the next two to three days. He added that he believed the Royal Irrigation Department could manage the flow by diverting water to dams and flood-prevention structures along the way as long as there is not more rain.

He also said the BMA Drainage Department had already prepared flood prevention measures to protect the capital.