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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong staying below major flood level

Mekong staying below major flood level

mekong.jpg
mekong.jpg

Experts remain optimistic but huge storms like one on Sunday October 7, experienced in Phnom Penh can still bring traffic to a halt, especially near Wat Phnom which always floods heavily.

With peak flood season past and the water level in the Mekong below average, top

water resources officials are not expecting serious flooding in Phnom Penh this year.

Mao Hak, director of the Department of Hydrology and River Works for the Ministry

of Water Resources and Meteorology, said this week that after measuring water levels

the past two weeks the department determined heavy flooding due to high water in

the river is not a threat.

"It has passed the most dangerous time - the end of September and early October

- when water levels usually rise to its maximum," he said.

The height of the river in Phnom Penh is lower than average this year because of

lighter rainfall north of Cambodia in the area of the Mekong running through Laos

and Thailand. Of the six countries that border the Mekong, Laos and Thailand have

the largest area of river catchment - 25% and 23% respectively, compared to Cambodia's

20%.

On October 9 ,the water level at Chaktomuk , the convergence of the four rivers in

Cambodia, was 9.10 meters, or 1.4 meters lower than the warning level of 10.50. It

would need to rise almost 3 meters to get to flood stage.

Hak explained there are four levels of "flood" including small, medium,

large and very large. Small and medium floods are welcomed by farmers because they

make the soil fertile along the riverbank.

Cambodia is in the "medium" stage this year, which is the optimal stage,

said Hak.

However the officials said the threat of "flash flooding" - or a flood

caused by sudden rainfall in one country, always exists at this time of year.

"We are not worried about the Mekong flooding for the time being, but flash

flood is what we need to prepare for because it is something that comes unexpectedly

and there is no way to prevent it. Even though it comes and goes quickly, it is still

devastating," said Hak.

A disaster control official said precautions are in place. Nhim Vanda, first deputy

president of National Committee for Disaster Management, said the committee does

training every year to educate people about flood management and how to observe and

prevent flooding.

Equipment such as boats and sand are in place along with supplies of drinking water,

food and medicine for disaster management. The committee has an annual budget for

flood disaster management.

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