Water release from dam creates havoc

Water release from dam creates havoc

Workers instal temporary flood barriers in front of Wat Chaiwattanaram in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district of Ayutthaya province following a warning by officials about high water levels in the river caused by discharges from the Chao Phraya dam. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)
Workers instal temporary flood barriers in front of Wat Chaiwattanaram in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district of Ayutthaya province following a warning by officials about high water levels in the river caused by discharges from the Chao Phraya dam. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)

Water released from the Chao Phraya dam in Chai Nat has inflicted severe damage on farmers and local villagers in Ayutthaya.

Water from the Chao Phraya dam was discharged at 1,503 cubic metres per second on Friday, overflowing into riverside communities and farmland, causing damage to homes and produce.

The water level in the river and the canals, which was 50cm higher than the river bank, is expected to rise, reaching one metre tonight.

An affected villager, Charoon Naksin, who is a retired military officer and runs a fish farm on the river, said the released water was hurting his business, causing a loss of more than 2 million baht.

The massive water discharge from the Chao Phraya dam killed more than 120,000 fish he had raised in baskets in the river, he said.

Mr Charoon called on the government to pay fair compensation as he took out a loan for the investment.

The discharged water also caused flooding in a number of homes at a level of 30-50cm.

The local irrigation department insisted that authorities had issued a warning about the dangers of the water overflowing into the rivers and canals.

Officials urged locals living near the rivers and canals yesterday to remain vigilant at all times as the water level is expected to increase by 60-80cm.

Located in a low-lying area, Ayutthaya is a flood-prone area. The province is hit hard by water released from the Chai Nat dam as a result of flooding during the rainy season on a yearly basis as there are no dykes or weirs in the province to prevent flood waters.

Udomsak Khaonuna, who represents the local centre for disaster prevention and mitigation, confirmed yesterday that at least three districts in Ayutthaya province had been submerged after the water was released from the dam. The districts are Bang Ban, Sena and Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.

More than 1,813 families in 15 tambons of 65 villages were affected by the flooding.

The floods are expected expand to cover other districts including Phak Hai, which will result in an increase in the number of flood victims, he added.

At around 8am, the water level in Khlong Phongphang and Khlong Bang Luang in Bang Ban district, which connects to the Chao Phraya River and Noi River, was rising quickly, overflowing into riverside villages and roads, prompting residents to move to higher ground.

Chookiat Boonmee, Bang Ban District Mayor, urged authorities to open the watergates under the administration of the Irrigation Department Division 2 to allow the overflowing water into nearby water-retention areas to be used during droughts rather than letting it to flow to the sea.

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