RID denies flood threat akin to 2011
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) and the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) have brushed aside growing concerns of possible flooding in Bangkok similar to the disaster of 2011.
Concerns about possible massive floods in the capital have been mounting following an increase in the water released from the Chao Phraya barrage in Chai Nat to a near "critical level" due to massive runoff from the northern region. In addition, speculation that three more storms are heading to Thailand has added to fears of flooding in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
The Chao Phraya barrage has to release as much as 2,600 cubic metres of water per second, close to the critical level of 2,800 cu/m per second which could flood the capital. Some communities along the banks of Chao Phraya River in Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi have been inundated by overflow.
RID director-general Somkiat Prajamwong on Thursday warned people living along the river in Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya and Bangkok and nearby provinces to move their belongings to higher ground. Still, he insisted the situation would not be as bad as 2011.
Mr Somkiat said water flow from the northern regions this year is not as severe as in 2011.
In addition, unlike that year, major dams in the North, particularly the Bhumibol dam in Tak and Sirikit dam in Uttaradit still have more capacity to accommodate rain water.
The Bhumibol dam currently is storing water at only 67% of its total capacity while the Sirikit dam is at 83%. In 2011, the dams reached 99% of their total capacities. As a result, the dams had to discharge large amounts of water.
Meanwhile, the TMD denied reports of three storms heading to hit Thailand in one or two weeks. TMD director-general Wanchai Sakudomchai said a weather analysis showed no storm formations in Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal betwen Thursday and Saturday. A low pressure zone is present but its effects will be felt only in Myanmar.
Minister of Agriculture and Cooperation Chatchai Sarikulya said the RID has halted the discharge of water from the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams to prevent run-off from the North overflowing to the Chao Phraya dam. The RID said currently the discharge rate is 2,600; the department will retain the 2,600 to 2,800 cu/m per second discharge rate for one week.
Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang said the northern run-off will not affect inner areas of Bangkok; however, communities located outside the Chao Phraya embankment are warned to brace for the impact of overflow.
Chakkaphan Phewngam, deputy Bangkok governor, said 2.5 metre-high permanent dams have been constructed along 77km of the river.
In the 9-kilometre stretches outside the embankment, 5 kilometres have been covered by dams constructed by the private sector, and sandbags have been put in place to protect the rest.
In other areas of Bangkok, the BMA has installed sandbags as a temporary barrier, with more than 300,000 sandbags prepared in case of emergency, he said.
Meanwhile, authorities are racing against time to erect earthen dykes to secure historical areas in Ayutthaya from floods.