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Barriers to 'spare cities, cause higher water levels elsewhere'

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Bangkok and nearby cities are likely to be spared from severe flooding this year but mushrooming flood barriers could cause higher water levels than last year in certain areas, a group of Thai-based consulting firms predict.

Monks’ quarters collapse

Several monks’ living quarters at Wat Sikuk in Bang Ban district of Ayutthaya collapsed yesterday following a failed bid to raise the floor to safeguard against flooding. The quarters, which are almost 100 years old, were supported by beams which became unstable after they had been submerged in floodwater in past years, subcontractors responsible for the floor-raising operation said. SUNTHORN PONGPAO

Chaowalit Chantararat, managing director of TEAM Group, said the prediction was based on the amount of rainfall last year and flood prevention measures carried out so far by the government.

He said based on this information, Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces would be safe from flooding. Low-lying areas which are regular flood zones will continue to flood however.

"Bangkok and nearby cities will be safe as they are all protected by water barriers. We have constructed water barriers in Khlong Praya Banlue, North and South Rapeepat canals and Khlong Prayanuchit. Of course, it is good for the capital and nearby cities. But it will effectively increase water levels in other places," he said.

According to the group's study, water levels will increase by 30-80cm on average based on the level of flooding last year. Water level increases can be expected mostly in provinces north of Bangkok.

In Suphan Buri, for example, the floodwater level is expected to increase by more than 57cm in Bang Pla Ma and U Thong districts, and 60cm in Song Phi Nong. A rise can be also expected in Nakhon Pathom's Bang Len district (60cm), Ang Thong's Pa Mok district (42cm), and Ayutthaya's Sena, Maha Rat and Bang Pa-in districts (20cm and 30cm respectively).

Ongkharak district in Nakhon Nayok which was not affected by flooding last year, can expect to see floodwater up to 60cm deep this year.

"By constructing water barriers along Khlong Praya Banlue alone, the flood-protection area will increase from 1.9 million rai to four million rai covering Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani. The expansion of the protected zone means higher flood levels elsewhere," Mr Chaowalit said.

Speaking at a seminar organised by TEAM Group, water management expert Pramod Maiklad said floods are a natural phenomenon in Thailand. During the past 35 years, the country has experienced 13 heavy floods that have caused damage 1.4 trillion baht worth of damage.

He expressed concern over the country's ability to manage flooding because of the absence of a floodway to help quickly drain water into the sea.

"I am very worried about the future. We don't have a clear policy on how to deal with large amounts of floodwater. Waterways or floodways have to be built. There must be a careful study and the project must be designed to address future probems, not just what will happen in BE 2555 [this year]," he said.

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Guest Friday, 18 April 2014

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