EIT urges floodways to cut flood impacts
WRITER: APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
Floodway construction is required to limit the impact of immense flooding and economic losses for people living in the southern provinces, and city planning should be adjusted to better enable disaster responses, says the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT).
Thanes Weerasiri, chairman of the EIT, said the flood crisis hitting the southern provinces is an important lesson on flood disaster management, which requires infrastructure development to reduce impacts.
He said the South is different geographically from the Central Plains which was hit by severe floods in 2011. In the South, massive amounts of water flow from the mountains at high speeds and hit low-lying areas. The water drainage systems in flood-hit towns were not designed to curb such huge quantities of water, nor such a powerful flow.
"We will not put the blame on city planning alone as it cannot respond to the city's quick growth. But for long-term prevention, we should think about a floodway to control water flowing from the mountains and effectively drain it into the sea," said Mr Thanes.
This should be included in the state database for designing flood disaster management plans in the future.
Nakhon Si Thammarat province is the most severely hit by the flooding, where rainfall has been measured as high as 700 milimetres in Maung district and over 400 milimetres in other districts.
Thailand's average rainfall is about 132 millimetres.
The southern flood is believed to be the worst in 30 years.
Mr Thanes admitted the cost of building flood-prevention infrastructure is high, and the government would have to consider the matter as it draws up its budgets.
In the short term, he suggested the capacity of current water drainage systems should be increased and obstacles blocking waterways should be cleared.
In addition, as city planning needs to be adjusted every five years according to the law, flood prevention concerns, including mapping out restricted areas that are preserved for water retention zones, should be given high priority.
Meanwhile, he said the Transport Ministry should prepare secondary roads which can be used as main roads when key highways are inundated during floods.
The institute plans to launch a rehabilitation scheme by asking for volunteer engineers to inspect the buildings and help with repair work after the water recedes.
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