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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     10 November  2011

Bangkok drained?

Bangkok could be drained of water in 11 days, says the Irrigation Department, presenting good news to a concerned Bangkok  for the first time since northern floodwaters entered the capital.

Nearly half of the northern runoff which has devastated farmland and industrial estates and flooded parts of the capital has now flowed into the sea and the rest will be drained out soon, it said yesterday.

This year's northern runoff has been estimated at 14 billion cubic metres.

Nearly half of that amount has flowed into the sea leaving 8.5 billion cu/m in the Central Plains, said spokesman Boonsanong Suchatpong.

He said that of the 8.5 billion cu/m of water, about 3 billion cu/m is in the Chao Phraya River and 3.5 billion cu/m in the fields in the central provinces and north of Bangkok.
The rest has penetrated flood walls and inundated many parts of the capital.

As the water continues to flow into the sea, the run-off in the fields will gradually drain into the river.

Mr. Boonsanong said this would leave only about 5 billion cu/m of water for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to manage.

With about 400 million cu/m of water being drained into the sea every day, the floodwater could be drained out of the capital in 11 days, he said.

Mr. Boonsanong dismissed reports the city could be hit by a new volume of floodwater from the North.

He said the water level in Nakhon Sawan was now 1.12 metres below the river banks and the water volume that flowed downstream would not add to the flood woes being experienced by downstream provinces. The drop in the water level in Ayutthaya's Bang Sai district and Nonthaburi's Pak Kret districts was also a good sign that less water was coming from the North, he said.

Meanwhile, the runoff from the western part of the city is approaching Rama II Road that links the city to the southern region.

The floodwater is about 1km away from the highway but it is hard to predict when it will reach and flood the road.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said yesterday he anticipated the runoff will reach Rama II Road by today.

The runoff, which is the result of the government's attempts to divert water from the Central Plains to the west and the east of the capital, has flooded most of Phetkasem Road and Bang Khun Thian-Bang Bon Road as it heads towards Rama II Road.

The government appears to have decided not to block the floods from entering Rama II Road but instead will use the highway as a floodway to allow floodwater to head into the estuary.

MR Sukhumbhand said the BMA must protect Rama II Road from inundation.

The BMA will seek cooperation from the Highway Department to keep the highway accessible to motorists, he said.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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