Author Topic: Dam levels to be kept low to reduce flood threat  (Read 596 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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Dam levels to be kept low to reduce flood threat
« on: January 23, 2012, 10:04:58 AM »
Dam levels to be kept low to reduce flood threat

Strategic water management panel unveils short-term measures; run-off areas to be identified

Flood prevention will be made a priority in the management of the country's dams, all of which will be required to keep their water levels at no more than half of capacity, the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM) announced yesterday.

"Water for agricultural purposes will be next in order of importance," SCWRM member Pitipong Puengboon na Ayutthaya said at a news conference attended by all key members of this national-level committee.

The SCWRM was set up after the flood crisis wreaked havoc across dozens of provinces, including Bangkok, late last year. Hundreds of people died of flood-related causes and the country's manufacturing sector was partially crippled when seven industrial estates were flooded.

After the crisis hit, many people blamed poor handling of the water in dams for worsening the flood problems.

The severity of the 2011 floods has highlighted the need for authorities to develop a good plan and prevent such a crisis from recurring.

Pitipong yesterday unveiled the key provisions of the short-term plan developed by the SCWRM.

"We will focus on how to efficiently manage water in dams, water in floodplains, and water from heavy downpours," he said. The Royal Irrigation Department, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and the Meteorological Department will hold daily meetings to discuss the water situation and to develop efficient drainage plans.

Pitipong said the Royal Irrigation Department and the Agriculture Ministry would also be asked to identify areas that would have to take in run-off if water levels became too large.

"We are going to provide compensation for people affected by the decision to push water into the designated flood areas," he said. "And we will try to ensure that flood-water levels in their areas won't be more than 1 metre deep."

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who chairs the SCWRM, said her government would provide Bt60 billion to implement the flood-area plan and for related remedial actions for affected people. However, she did not specify how the compensation would be paid or for how many years this budget was expected to last.

She said only that for the purpose of reducing damages from flooding this year, her government had already approved Bt18.11 billion.

"The Cabinet has already approved the water-management master plan. It entails two implementation plans, one for urgent measures and the other for long-term measures," Yingluck said.

Pitipong said engineering work for the short-term plan would cost about Bt17 billion. He said this included systems for total flood prevention in key economic and residential areas, the prevention of overflows, the upgrading of sluice gates, and improved drainage capacity in Bangkok.

"We also plan to tackle sandbars at the mouth of the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin rivers under a Bt277-million budget to facilitate rapid water flow," he said.

He mentioned many other flood-prevention projects, which he said would be subject to review by relevant authorities.

"After the SCWRM and the National Economic and Social Development Board approve them, they will be forwarded to relevant authorities for review," he said. The agencies would try to complete key work by April, Pitipong said.

Yingluck said that in the long run, about Bt177 billion would be spent on developing an efficient water-infrastructure network for the country.

THE NATION January 21, 2012 1:00 am