Expert warns capital facing deluge threat

City's drainage system deemed 'inadequate'

Bangkok is at risk of flooding from heavy downpours caused by an unusually lengthy monsoon trough period and an imminent storm early next month, an expert has warned.

Run-off from the North, which last year left parts of the capital submerged, will only worsen the flooding because the real threat this year is rain that may overwhelm the current inadequate drainage system in the capital, said Thanawat Charupongsakul, a disaster and geographic expert at Geology Department of Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, yesterday.

The city has so far not released enough water from canals to the extent done back in 2006 when canals were left with plenty of capacity to hold floodwater, he said.

"To make things worse, City Hall has still not stopped quarrelling with the government over flood management," he said.

Dr Thanawat alerted Bangkokians to the high risk of floods caused by rainfall because the monsoon trough, which usually lasts between four and seven days, has continued for nearly a month and a new storm is forming near Taiwan and could head towards Thailand. He expects Bangkok to suffer heavy downpours between Saturday and Oct 2.

Mr Thanawat is most worried about October because that is when run-off from the North and high tides increase the water level in the Chao Phraya River.

The city's river embankment is about 2.5m above mean sea level, but provinces upstream, especially those with industrial estates, have built and increased the heights of their levees and flood walls, so the run-off will be blocked and eventually move toward Bangkok.

The only solution is to reduce water levels in canals by almost draining them completely to brace for the large amount of rain water, Dr Thanawat said.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) spokesman Wasan Meewong yesterday criticised the recent clearing of sewers at nine locations by inmates at the request of the Traffic Police Division, after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra expressed her concern about them being clogged.

City Hall welcomed the help, Mr Wasan said, but the police should have told the BMA first because the sewers had already been cleared early this year.

"In fact, police would be better off keeping watch on crime and traffic," Mr Wasan said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Chadchart Sittiphan has asked Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat for permission to use compounds of the 2nd Cavalry Division in Din Daeng and the air force-owned Dhupateme stadium in Don Muang as kaem ling (monkey cheek) water-retention areas to reduce flood woes on roads and ease traffic problems.

Meanwhile, Loxley-AGT Joint Venture, made up of Loxley Plc and Switzerland-based AGT International GMBH, has been chosen to join another seven bidders for the government's 350 billion baht project to implement a national flood prevention and water management system, Mr Chadchart said yesterday.

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