Thursday, December 1, 2011

Relief in sight as water level in canals drops

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has agreed to raise four more sluice gates to allow water from neighbouring Pathum Thani province to flow into canals now the floodwater in many Bangkok areas has receded.
People fish near the Phraya Suren sluice gate in Sai Mai district after Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra ordered that it be opened to 1.3 metres. The order followed demands by residents living upstream that the gate be lifted to help drain water from their areas which have been flooded for more than a month. WEERAWONGWONGPREEDEE
He also agreed to lift the controversial Khlong Phraya Suren watergate from 1m to 1.3m.
MR Sukhumbhand said yesterday water levels in major canals have also fallen. This meant several inner areas would not be at risk of flooding.
As the situation was not worrying, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will raise four major sluice gates on the northern and eastern sides of Bangkok to allow northern run-off to flow into the canals, he said. As well as Khlong Phraya Suren, the other three sluice gates are Khlong Sam Wa, Lam Bueng Khwang and Lat Krabang.
Future planning: A 200 billion baht flood tunnel
The Khlong Sam Wa sluice gate will be raised from 80cm to 90cm to allow floodwater from Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka to flow into Khlong Saen Saep before the water is drained into a giant water tunnel between Rama 9 and Ramkhamhaeng roads.
The Lam Bueng Khwang and Lat Krabang sluice gates will be lifted from 1m to 1.2m to drain water from Lam Luk Ka to Khlong Prawet before the water is drained to the sea through the water tunnel, the governor said.
He thanked Lum Luk Ka residents who had lowered the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice from 1.5m to its normal level of 1m early yesterday before he decided to raise the gate to 1.3m.
The Bangkok governor had earlier refused to negotiate with Pathum Thani residents after they raised the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate to 1.5m on two occasions without permission. The furious residents were led by Pol Maj Sa-ngiam Samranrat, a red shirt leader and a political office holder at the Prime Minister's Office.
Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) director Pracha Promnok said yesterday the conflict at Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate was settled.
"After meeting the Bangkok governor, it was concluded the sluice gate would be widened to 1.3m," he said.
He said they would continue to monitor the effect of the opening. If there were no serious problems they would widen it to 1.5m, he said.
He also insisted that Pol Maj Sa-ngiam was in no way affiliated with the Froc or its operations.
When asked what the Froc would do if there are more people asking for the gate to be widened further, he said: "It is under the Bangkok governor's authority to order the gate opened or closed but I don't think any issue is likely to arise."
Weera Wongsaengnak, the Froc's water drainage panel head and former deputy chief of the Royal Irrigation Department, said the situation in Bangkok west of the Chao Phraya River was still unfolding.
"We have been experiencing high tides for the past two weeks but it is now over and the Chao Phraya River should continue to see decreases in water levels and west Bangkok should be dry by Dec 20," he said.
For the east of Chao Phraya River, Anond Snidvongs, an academic who sits on the Froc panel, said that an estimated 1 billion cu/m of water still remains in low-lying areas.
He said the water level in Khlong Rangsit continues to recede and the RID was considering lowering or shutting sluice gates leading into Khlong Hok Wa to reduce water levels in Lam Luk Ka and northern Bangkok.
He said the Froc has removed some big bags as well as steel sheet piles along northbound railways.