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Phuket prepared for floods with B433.5mn budget, officials say

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PHUKET: There will be no flooding in Patong this year, Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup told the Phuket Gazette last week following approval of a 420-million-baht budget for flood prevention in densely developed Patong.

Ms Chalermluck said she was confident that the implementation of several short-and-long-term flood prevention measures currently underway will ensure that Patong is not inundated with runoff during the monsoon rains, as it has been over the past 20 years.

Patong Police Station has been regularly inundated with flood water more than a meter deep, damaging equipment and files at the station and often crippling its operations.

“This year, the police station will not be affected by any flooding following approval of the budget from the Phuket Provincial Public Works and Town & Country Planning Office, which is to be used over the next two years to undertake a variety of flood prevention initiatives. A construction company was contracted in April to carry out the work,” Mayor Chalermluck said.

“The municipality has been dredging canals and removing obstructions, such as trash blocking drainage pipes. These temporary measures have been successful and there has not been any flooding in Patong so far this year,” said Mayor Chalermluck.

“However, continually clearing blockages has been costly and we are looking at better, longer-term solutions, such as building a pond in which to collect trash to prevent it from clogging up waterways,” she said. “That would make dredging the canals no longer necessary.”

Phase two of the flood-prevention project for Patong Municipality is to build a new culvert leading from Bang Ton Khao Khlong, in the north of Patong, directly out to the sea, Mayor Chalermluck said. The municipality will also build a flood barrier at Pak Bang Canal in the south to prevent sea water from flooding the city.

“Currently, runoff is directed down a small drainage pipe that is already 10 years old,” she said. “It’s too small to cope with the excess water, so a much larger underground culvert is to be built, running under Phra Baramee Road and out to sea, instead of flowing through town.”

“The flood barrier at Pak Bang Canal, at the southern end of the municipality, will prevent sea water from flowing into Patong. We will also build up hillside walls along the canal in order to help prevent landslides. As an extra precautionary measure, additional water pumps will be installed across the municipality to help drain any excess water,” she added.

The mayor said the municipality is planning to build a new road alongside the renovated canal, which she said would become a “local tourist attraction”.

The mayor blamed old, crooked pipes leading to the water treatment plant near 200 Pi Bridge as contributors to Patong’s flooding woes. Those pipes will be replaced with wider and straighter passageways as part of the two-year improvement plan.

Mayor Chalermluck assured the Gazette that the entire operation will be completed by 2018. “Some things are still in the planning stages, but construction will begin soon,” she said.

Following a heavy downpour on July 19, neighboring Karon village experienced the worst flooding of the city in decades. Shops and houses opposite hillside construction sites along Patak Road were inundated with mud and water up to one meter deep.

Following the Karon flood, Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada convened a meeting of authorities across the province to discuss flood prevention measures. Governor Chamroen ordered local authorities to monitor areas at risk of flooding.

Karon Municipality Acting Chief Administrative Officer Wanchai Saetan told the Gazette this week that village workers were still in the process of shoring up flood-prone spots.

Mr Wanchai blamed last month’s flooding on a damaged water pump that sucked in trash and could not function properly.

“A large water pump has already been installed where the flooding was most severe on July 19 and three more pumps have been ordered at a cost of 500,000 baht. The new pumps should be installed within the next three months,” said Mr Wanchai.

“Four other water pumps have already been installed in other locations and we have widened the drainage pipes in some areas. However, flooding is still a problem, due to trash clogging the waterways,” Mr Wanchai said.

“Another problem is new housing and hotel developments filling in land with topsoil, which often blocks our natural waterways.”

Mr Wanchai said municipal workers will soon install grills over drainageways to prevent floating trash from getting into the pumps, as well as dredging canals across the municipality to allow runoff to flow more freely.

The municipality is also running a public awareness campaign, explained Mr Wanchai. “We are encouraging locals not to throw rubbish into the canals and waterways. People caught doing so can be fined as much as 2,000 baht,” he said.

In August last year, flash floods in Chalong caused long tailbacks and left many motorists pushing their scooters through deep water on Chao Fa West Road, in front of the TOT office.

Chalong Mayor Samran Jindaphol told the Gazette this week that his municipality was “100 per cent” prepared for flooding this year.

“We have solved almost all of the flood issues in Chalong,” Mayor Samran said. “The canals in the area are constantly dredged and we have been focusing our efforts on building retaining walls to prevent landslides in potential hotspots along both Chao Fa East and West roads.”

Mr Samran said some of the walls had already been built and that more are to be constructed, along with a large water drainage center to be completed by 2018.

“There will be no flooding outside of the TOT office this year,” he said. “We have spent about 13 million baht on building three culverts to carry runoff. They should be completed within a week.”

“Another major trouble spot in Chalong has been at Chalong Temple, where three drainage channels converge. However, those channels have now been split up, so there will be no more flooding there,” he added.

While the three municipal heads admitted that heavy rains would still cause flooding in some spots, all three said they were confident that any flood waters would take no more than 10 to 20 minutes to drain away.

— Kongleaphy Keam

 

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