By THE NATION
PHETCHABURI province faced the prospect of being submerged under 25 to 30 centimetres of water tonight as the Kaeng Krachan Dam reached 97 per cent capacity.
Located in Phetchaburi, some 9.31 million cubic metres of water is being discharged from the dam daily towards downstream zones such as the Muang and Ban Lat districts.
However, relevant authorities are taking steps to ease the impact. The Royal Thai Navy is dispatching 20 boats to facilitate water flow from the areas via the Phetchaburi River.
Some 450 soldiers have also been mobilised to help people living alongside the river to move their belongings to higher ground.
Sandbags have also been piled up as a precaution.
A round-the-clock flood-relief centre has been set up in the Phetchaburi Provincial Hall to deliver timely help.
Since Saturday, locals in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan, Tha Yant, Ban Lat, Muang and Ban Laem districts have been bracing for possible floods. Authorities have asked them to move their belongings to at least 50 centimetres above ground level.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit the province tomorrow, a source said.
According to the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, sea levels will also rise between Thursday and Saturday. Phetchaburi is a coastal province.
Worrying levels at dams
Royal Irrigation Department deputy director-general Thaweesak Thanadachophol said water in several dams had already reached worrying levels.
“We need to pay close attention to dams that are over 80 per cent full,” he said.
The department’s website shows four dams were almost brimming yesterday.
Apart from the Kaeng Krachan, the other three dams are Nam Oun in Sakon Nakhon province, as well as Vajiralongkorn and Srinakharin dams in Kanchanaburi province.
The Nam Oun Dam was full to 101 per cent of its holding capacity, while water levels at Vajiralongkorn and Srinakharin dams stood at 84 and 86 per cent respectively.
Deputy Prime Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said that he had instructed the Royal Irrigation Department to install more pipes to siphon water away so the impact on downstream residents is minimal.
“We will try to divert some water into canals to drain into the sea, instead of the Phetchaburi River,” he said.
Officials have lately dredged a canal in Ban Laem district that links up with the river to help drain excessive water into the sea faster to minimise impact on the city area, he said.
Chatchai also said that floods in several provinces along the swelling Mekong River had started receding though some low-lying riverside areas remained submerged.
He also warned that storm-hit China and Laos might send runoffs along the Mekong towards Thailand.
He said the Royal Irrigation Department’s Smart Water Operation Centre was monitoring the situation round the clock and would bring any problems that may arise to his attention immediately.
He said the authorities had been releasing water from dams since the start of the rainy season as per the “Rule Curve” principle, which ensures that dams have enough water for a drought but do not overflow during the monsoon.
However, the case of Kaeng Krachan Dam is unusual because up to 120 million cubic metres of water had poured into it in a single day, forcing the urgent release of water.