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Another dam controversy

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Some experts say Thai dams are too full. Irrigation officials say yes, but they won’t be by the end of the dry season.

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Smith warns of dam peril

Fears grow of another massive flood disaster

Kultida Samabuddhi & Apinya Wipatayotin

Experts fear that the high water levels in some of the country's major dams could lead to disaster.

Disaster prevention and water management experts are worried that the delay in discharging water from the dams could lead to a repeat of last year's catastrophic floods.

"This is definitely a worrying sign," National Disaster Warning Council chairman Smith Dharmasaroja told the Bangkok Post in a phone interview yesterday. "Agencies in charge of dam operations must urgently release water from the dams to make sure there is enough room to receive new inflows during the approaching rainy season."

Mr Smith, a former Meteorological Department chief and a member of the government-appointed Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM), said Thailand is expected to experience high rainfall this year due to the La Nina weather phenomenon.

"We have to be prepared. Water storage levels in the major dams should be lowered to about 40% of their storage capacity," he said.

The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) reported yesterday the Bhumibol Dam is holding up to 12.3 billion cubic metres, or about 91% of its storage capacity, while the Sirikit Dam is 89% full. Water storage in most major dams in the North, Central and Northeast also exceeds 70% of their capacity.

Some experts blamed mismanagement of water storage in major dams for last year's epic floods. They said dam operators should have released the water before the rainy season arrived to have more retention capacity.

Mr Smith said the government should urgently devise short-term flood prevention plans to prevent a repeat of the 2011 floods.

The SCWRM had also failed to draw up any workable measures as they spent most of the time debating.

Science and Technology Ministry Plodprasop Suraswadi was also upset with the sluggish water discharge from the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams.

Water levels in the two dams remained too high although the rainy season is only months away, Mr Plodprasop said on Monday. "I am going to inspect the dams shortly to see for myself why they are holding so much water," he said.

Boonsanong Suchatpong, the RID's spokesman, however, assured that his agency and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand had carefully managed water storage in the major dams, based on lessons learned from last year's flooding.

The Bhumibol and Sirikit dams, in Tak and Uttaradit provinces respectively, were releasing between 40-55 million cu/m each day to feed off-season rice crops, he said, adding the storage levels in the dams would reach about 40% of their capacity at the end of the dry season in April.

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controversy – a strong disagreement, especially about a public policy or moral issue ความขัดแย้ง  ประเด็นข้อขัดแย้ง
peril – serious danger การตกอยู่ในอันตราย, การเสี่ยงภัย
massive – very large มหาศาล
disaster –an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage ภัยพิบัติ ความหายนะ
expert – someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
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
prevention – preventing something bad from happening การป้องกันภ้ย
delay – to make something happen at a later time than originally expected หน่วง, ซื้อเวลา, ยืดเวลา
discharge – to let a liquid flow out ปล่อยออก, ขับออก
catastrophic – extremely damaging เหตุร้ายกาจม ความหายนะม ให้ผลหายนะอย่างใหญ่หลวง
interview – a meeting (often a public one) at which a journalist asks somebody questions in order to find out their opinions, experiences, etc. การสัมภาษณ์
operation – an activity which is planned to achieve something การดำเนินการ
urgently – needing to be dealt with immediately อย่างเร่งด่วน
release – to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
inflow – the movement of a liquid or of air into a place from somewhere else การไหลเข้า,  กระแสที่ไหลเข้ามา
Meteorological Department – the government department in charge of determining what the weather will be in the future กรมอุตุนิยมวิทยา
strategic – carefully planned in order to achieve a particular goal, especially in war, business, or politics ทางยุทธศาสตร์
(natural) resources –  things such as water, coal, trees, wildlife and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากรธรรมชาติ
due to – because of เนื่องจาก
La Nina – the cooling of the water in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean that happens every few years and that affects the weather in many parts of the world
phenomenon - something that exists and can be seen, felt, tasted, etc., especially something which is unusual or interesting ปรากฏการณ์
storage – the putting and keeping of things in a special place for use in the future การเก็บ
storage capacity – the amount of something that can be kept in a place, building, container, etc. ความจุ
irrigation – the process of supplying water to an area of land through pipes or channels so that crops will grow การชลประทาน
exceed – to go beyond an official limit; to be greater than a number or amount เกินปริมาณ
epic – of an event or activity that lasts a long time and is difficult or complicated  ยิ่งใหญ่
retention – the act of keeping or storing something การเก็บ, การเก็บรักษา
devise – to invent a method of doing something คิดขึ้นใหม่
measure – an action taken to solve a particular problem มาตรการ
upset – to cause to be very worried, angry or sad about something   ทำให้วิตกกังวล ทำให้หงุดหงิด
sluggish – slower than what it should be; not performing or reacting as well as usual เฉื่อยชา
debate – to discuss something, especially by giving different opinions อภิปราย, ถกเถียง, โต้เถียง
inspect – to look at something carefully ตรวจสอบ
assure – to tell someone that something is true or will definitely happen ให้ความมั่นใจ, ยืนยัน
respectively – in the order in which they were mentioned ตามลำดับ

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