By THE NATION
FLOODING in the Chao Phraya River Basin will be resolved within one month if there is no more rain, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya confirmed yesterday. However, many dams are still full and the Northeastern region is still suffering from severe flooding.
Chatchai went to Ayutthaya and Chai Nat provinces yesterday with Royal Irrigation Department (RID) director-general Somkiat Prajamwong to monitor the flood situation in the Chao Phraya River Basin by helicopter and to have a meeting with local authorities and related agencies about flood mitigation.
After his inspection, he said the flood situation in the river basin was under control and the situation would be resolved within one month, if there were no more rains.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is trying its best to help farmers during the floods. As we have seen in the current situation, the flood problem will be over soon. The ministry will order the Chao Phraya Dam [authorities] to reduce the water discharge, if there is no more rain, to relieve the flood problems of the people downstream,” Chatchai said.
Nevertheless, he said that the discharge rate at the Chao Phraya must “remain” no more than 2,600 cubic metres per second this week. If there is no more incoming water, the dam discharge will be reduced to the normal rate of 700 cubic metres per second. He added that according to the Meteorological Department’s weather forecast for the next 10 days, it was unlikely any storm would come to Thailand.
Somkiat confirmed that the worst part of this year’s flood season has already passed, as the Chao Phraya’s water level in Nakhon Sawan province has started to get lower.
As for measures to relieve flooding in the Chao Phraya Basin, Somkiat said the RID had ordered officials at the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams, on the upper reach of the river basin, to stop draining water. This was to preserve the water for the upcoming dry season and reduce the overall volume of the Chao Phraya.
In terms of the downstream area, the RID has allocated 12 flood-retention fields to store water. These fields have already reduced the overall water volume in the Chao Phraya by up to 1.202 billion cubic metres, and there is still room for up to 310 million cubic metres.
After updating the latest situation, Chatchai praised all relevant agencies, saying they had made very good preparations for this year’s flood season. He said damage had been limited even though there had been 30 per cent more rain than average.
However, noted that there were still many reports of flood damage from other areas, especially in the North and Northeastern regions.
These included a report that an earth dam in the Khok Samrong district of Lop Buri province had collapsed early yesterday, causing a massive amount of water to inundate farmland downstream and threaten many villages.
The chief of the Tambon Phaniad Administrative Organisation said the dam collapsed at 4am after the 400-rai (64-hectare) reservoir filled to capacity following many days of heavy rains.
The embankment collapsed across a width of about 10 metres and continued to widen during the day. Local officials rushed to the scene to try to stop the water, while an urgent warning was issued to people living downstream to brace for possible flash flooding.
Meanwhile, above-capacity storage in Ubonrat Dam in Khon Kaen province affected people both upstream and downstream, as the Phong River burst its banks and flooded many villages and farmland.
The water from the Phong, which is a tributary of the Chi River, also aggravated floods in the Chi River basin in the Northeast.