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Authorities in Chiang Rai Try to Ease Fears of Mae Suai Reservoir Dam Bursting



Chiang Rai's Mae Suai dam, a bird's-eye view. in May 2014 (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Chiang Rai’s Mae Suai dam, a bird’s-eye view. in May 2014 (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)


CHIANG RAI – The Provincial Government and the Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) have joined together to try and ease public concern over the safety of the Mae Suai Reservoir in Chiang Rai province in the face of earthquake fears.

Fears of an earthquake have deepened after a 6.3-magnitude quake hit the province in May of 2014 and hundreds of aftershocks followed, causing some cracks in the structure.

Anurak Chuchern supervisor of the reservior dam said yesterday “It can withstand a quake with a magnitude of up to seven on the Richter scale.”

Chiang Rai’s Mae Suai Reservior Dam was constructed in 2003 and started storing water in 2014.

According to Mr.Chuchern people have been spreading false rumours have been spread that as a result of the cracks the reservoir will burst. Many locals have relocated away from the reservoir’s neighbourhood.

He said relevant agencies had dispatched engineers to inspect the reservoir several times in response to the concerns of locals and they found that the structure was secure.

“But we are in the process of improving the reservoir further so as to boost public confidence in its safety,” he said.

Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) Vice director Suttisak Soralump told a press conference yesterday that the 6.3-magnitude earthquake caused only slight damage to the reservoir.

“That damage definitely can’t bring down the structure,” he said, having inspected the reservoir recently.

“The cracks on the top concrete part of the dam have existed since the dam was built and causes some water to leak when the water level in the dam is high.

“They were caused by the concrete part and earth part of the dam sinking at different rates. The earthquake only made new cracks on the concrete blocks.”

Despite the assurances, Assoc Prof Suwattana Thittaladakorn, the EIT’s expert in water-resource engineering, said the damage would have to be fixed to make people feel safe.

Suwattana also said locals would have to be prepared in the event of another earthquake occurring and an early-warning earthquake system would be installed.

The EIT examined the reservoir after the safety concerns caused a rift between the Royal Irrigation Department and locals.

By – Nisanart Kangwanwong, Pratch Rujivanarom


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