The Boonkannawas Temple was under water for the second day yesterday as major flooding hit Bang Ban district and other areas of Ayutthaya province. Most of the central provinces were inundated following heavy downpours over the past couple of days.
By Pratch Rujivanarom
STORMS forecast for next month; authorities plan to raise water release from Chao Phraya dam and use water retention basins
to ease floods
THAIS IN Central Region could face more severe flooding, with four storms expected to hit the country next month while the Irrigation Department has prepared measures to cope with the expected deluge.
The measures being drawn up by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) include increasing discharge and opening up room for storage in retention basins.
Many areas along the Chao Phraya River, such as in Lop Buri, Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani, have already been flooded, RID director-general Suthep Noipairoj said yesterday.
He said that the department planned to further increase water discharge from the Chao Phraya Dam and was considering delaying the use of retention basins for water storage.
“We already have plans to manage the water during this flood season, as we are only discharging water from Bhumipol Dam for 1 million cubic metres per day and and Sirikit Dam for two million cubic metres per day,” Suthep said.
“However, we have to increase discharge from Chao Phraya Dam to 2,000 cubic metres per second to prepare for the upcoming rain in October,” Suthep explained.
He said that although these decisions will worsen flooding in the areas that have already been submerged, people should endure the flooding for the sake of the majority.
“The people who live along Chao Phraya River have been living with the water for very long time. They can adapt their lives during the floods, so there should be no problem. I assure that only the communities in low-lying land near the river will be flooded, but the rest of farmland and the city will be well protected,” he said.
Amid criticism that the department had not opened the retention basins to mitigate the current floods, RID deputy director-general Thongplew Kongjun explained that it was not yet time to use this measure because more rain will come in October when there will still be many unharvested rice crops.
“We have agreements with the local farmers to let them harvest their crops first before we can let the water flood their farms. It is estimated that all crops will be harvested by the end of September and October is the peak month for flooding, so we have to spare these lands for floodwater storage at that time,” Thongplew said.
“If we stored the water in these retention basins right now, there would be no space to keep the floodwater next month and there would be large-scale floods.”
Meanwhile, Wattana Kanbua, senior meteorologist and Marine Meteorological Centre director, confirmed that the rainy season should last until late October, with four more storms approaching Thailand during next month.
“This year’s rain pattern is normal, but most people think that this rainy season is heavier because they compare it to last year’s situation, when there was drought. From the information to hand, I can say that it will be still rainy across Northern, North Eastern and Central Region of Thailand during next month, with four more storms arriving,” Wattana said. He said that although there would be more storms, these were not of serious concern although they would affect the monsoon trough over Thailand.
“Right now, the monsoon trough is over Central Region and it will keep travelling south during the next months. But the storms will make it unstable and may last longer in this area, which will increase the potential for flooding,” he said.However, he denied the connection of the increase rain in Thailand recently with the global climate pattern of La Nina or El Nino and insisted that it was only the local scale weather pattern.