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Rising dam levels add to flood fears

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Rising water levels in dams along the Chao Phraya River are causing concern, with rain forecast for the Central Plains and Bangkok this weekend likely to put them under increasing pressure. 

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The scene yesterday just off Khlong Rangsit in Pathum Thani which has overflowed after days of heavy rain. TAWEECHAI TAWACHPAKORN

Dam levels spark fears

Apinya Wipatayotin
Amornrat Mahitthirook


Rising water levels in dams along the Chao Phraya River are causing concern, with rain forecast for the Central Plains and Bangkok this weekend likely to put them under increasing pressure.

Authorities are downplaying the prospect of further floods, though they warn that as water is discharged from the dams, the river could breach its banks in some areas.

They are mainly worried about the Dan Prakan Chon dam in Nakhon Nayok, and the Pasak Jolasid dam in Lop Buri, whose capacities have reached up to 94% and 77% respectively.

The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) says it will have to raise the discharge rates of several dams upstream of Bangkok to ease the pressure.

The department has told the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) that it will increase discharges from Monday, particularly from the Pasak Jolasid dam and the Chao Phraya dam in Chai Nat province.

Flood walls, like this 1.2-km stretch on the banks of Khlong Bangkok Noi, should keep the inner city dry, city officials insist. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG

The water will be drained into the Central Plains and into the sea, Adisak Khantee, director of the BMA's Department of Drainage and Sewerage said. The water will have to pass through Ang Thong, Sing Buri, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Bangkok on its way there.

The Thai Meteorological Department yesterday issued a warning that a strong high pressure front from China will cause a strong monsoon trough across the country until Sunday.

Heavy rain is likely to fall in the Central Plains and the lower Northeast on Saturday and Sunday, lower North and Northeast tomorrow and on Friday, and the North and the upper Northeast over the next day or so.

Royol Chitradon, director of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, said waterflow in the river this year would exceed last year's total, but would still be less than that in 2011 when severe flooding hit the country.

Mr Adisak, of the BMA, said the department will increase flow rates from the dams until early next month and try to keep the supply rate into the Chao Phraya River at 2,200-2,400 cubic metres per second (cm/s).

The river's water-handling capacity is 2,500-3,000 cm/s.

Maitree Pitinanont, irrigation director in Ayutthaya province, said the discharge rate of the Chao Phraya dam could rise to 2,500 cm/s, the critical level at which flooding would occur in high-risk areas, and consequently the level of the Chao Phraya River below the dam would rise by 75-125cm.

This newly-built 1.2-billion-baht permanent flood wall should keep Ayutthaya's Nava Nakorn industrial estate dry, but with nowhere for the water to flow, unprotected areas could be hit hard. APICHIT JINAKUL.

Still, RID spokesman Thanar Suwattana insisted heavy flooding will not hit the lower central provinces and Bangkok unless the amount of water released from the Chao Phraya dam is more than 3,000 cm/s.

As of yesterday afternoon, waterflow at the dam had reached 2,195 cm/s, while the waterflow through Nakhon Sawan province was 1,717 cm/s. (Note: On September 19, 2011 the rate at Nakhon Sawan was measured at 3,935 cm/s.)

Mr Thanar said the department has prepared water retention zones in the northern provinces of Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and Phichit, comprising more than 30,000 rai of paddy fields, to hold water overflow.

He said the department also plans to divert water from the Chao Phraya River to other waterways to the west and east, aimed at reducing the waterflow which will pass through Ayutthaya and lowland areas in northern Bangkok.

On the eastern side, the overflow from the Chao Phraya River will be diverted into the southern Raphiphat canal to Nakhon Nayok province and travel further to the Bang Pakong River and to the sea in Chachoengsao.

In the west, waterflow will be diverted into the Makam Thao-Uthong canal in Suphan Buri before pushing out to the Tha Chin River.

Hanarong Yaowalert, chairman of the Thai Water Partnership, said he was concerned about floodwalls built to protect properties including industrial estates since the big floods hit in 2011.

The barriers can enhance the strength of floodwater passing into nearby unprotected areas as the water has nowhere to go.

"The water will come faster and rise higher, as it cannot flow through to low-lying areas. That means disaster," he said.

A monk commutes by boat to receive alms as Tha Phanit temple in Kabin Buri district, Prachin Buri, is ravaged by floods. Many locations including the temple were under up to two metres of water. THANARAK KHOONTON

Meanwhile, floods triggered by heavy rain have killed at least nine people – six in Surin and three in Si Sa Ket. One person has been reported missing in Surin since Sept 17, while up to 1.5 million people have been affected, the Disaster Prevention and Relief Department says. Flooding has hit 23 of the country's 77 provinces, it said yesterday.

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Vocabulary:

aim: to have as your purpose or goal - มีเป้าหมาย มีจุดมุ่งหมาย

alms: food, money, and other items that are given to Buddhist monks; money, clothes and food that are given to poor people - ของทำบุญ ของบริจาค

authority: a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA): the local government of Bangkok - กรุงเทพมหานคร

barrier: a wall, pile of sandbags, etc., that prevents water from entering - สิ่งกีดขวาง

breach its banks (of a river): to flood; to have water go over the sides - ล้นตลิ่ง

capacity: the total amount or number that can be contained - ปริมาณสูงสุดที่จะรับได้

commute: regular travel between work and home - การเดินทางระหว่างบ้านและที่ทำงาน

comprise: to consist or be made up of two or more things - ประกอบด้วย

concern: a worry - ความกังวล

consequently: as a result; therefore - ดังนั้น

critical: extremely important because a future situation will be affected by it - สำคัญยิ่ง

cubic metre: the volume of a cube with edges one metre in length - ลูกบาศก์เมตร

disaster: something very bad that happens and causes a lot of damage or kills a lot of people - ความหายนะ  ภัยพิบัติ

discharge: to let a liquid flow out - ปล่อยออก, ขับออก

divert: to cause something to change direction, in this case, water - เบนเส้นทางเดินน้ำ

downplay: to make something seem less important or less bad than it really is - แสดงหรืออธิบายถึงสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่งโดยแสร้งว่าไม่สำคัญหรือไม่แย่นัก

drain: to cause water or fluid to flow out - ระบายออก

ease: to make a problem, situation or pain less severe or serious - บรรเทา

enhance: to improve the quality, amount or strength of something - ปรับปรุง, ทำให้ดีขึ้น

exceed: to be more than something; to go beyond a limit - เกินกว่าที่กำหนด

forecast: to say what you think will happen in the future based on information that you have now - ทำนาย, ทาย, พยากรณ์

front: the line where a mass of cold air meets a mass of warm air -

high pressure: a condition of the air which affects the weather when the pressure is higher than average - ความกดอากาศสูง

industrial estate: an area of land where industrial companies have their buildings - นิคมอุตสาหกรรม

insist: to keep saying very firmly that something is true - ยืนกราน ยืนยัน

level: the amount of liquid that there is in a container, river, dam, etc., which can be seen by how high the liquid is - ระดับ

location: where someone or something is - ที่ตั้ง,ทำเล

meanwhile: at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน

Meteorological Department: the government department in charge of determining what the weather will be in the future - กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา

monsoon: the seasonal changes Asian countries during which winds shift bringing more rain (southwest monsoon) and less rain(northeast monsoon) - มรสุม

overflow: (of a river or body of water) to flood the land next to it - เอ่อล้น, ไหลล้น

particularly: especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ

permanent: happening or existing for a long time or for all time in the future - ถาวร  

pressure: a force pressing against something - ความกดดัน

prospect: the possibility that something will happen - โอกาส

rate: the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period - อัตรา

ravaged: destroyed; damaged very badly - ถูกทำลาย, เสียหาย, ถูกล้างผลาญ

reduce: to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc - ลดลง

respectively: in the order in which they were mentioned - ตามลำดับ

retention: the act of keeping or storing something - การเก็บ, การเก็บรักษา

risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง

Royal Irrigation Department: The Thai government department in charge of the country's irrigation system - กรมชลประทาน

severe: very serious and worrying - ที่รุนแรง ที่น่าเป็นห่วง

sewerage: the system by which sewage (liquid waste) is carried away from houses, factories, etc. and is cleaned and made safe by adding chemicals to it - การระบายของเสียออกทางท่อระบาย

spark: to make something happen, especially something bad - ก่อให้เกิด

stretch: a continuous area of land or water - บริเวณที่แผ่ขยายไป, บริเวณวงกว้าง

trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น

trough: a long narrow region of low air pressure between two regions of higher pressure -

upstream: along a river, in the opposite direction to which the river is flowing - ต้นน้ำ

warning: an action or statement telling someone of a possible problem or danger - คำเตือน, การเตือน

zone: an area that has an important or typical feature; an area where a particular activity is allowed or not allowed - พื้นที่, บริเวณ, เขต

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