The warning system at the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology reported rising water levels from the early warning stations at Dangsa on Phochhu and Tashithang on Mochhu in Punkaha around 12.55am yesterday.

Officials were still monitoring the water levels of Mochhu yesterday evening, as it was still at alert level.

An engineer with the centre’s hydrology division, Sangay Tenzin said the levels of the two rivers did not reach dangerous levels.

“Even the Punatsangchhu was within the warning level,” he said. After the warning level, the threat reaches the alarm level where the early warning sirens go off and the government evacuates settlements on the under-threat areas of the rivers.

“We’ve not reached that stage yet,” Sangay Tenzin said.

Following the standard operating procedure, officials at the centre informed all stakeholders when the alert level was detected by the system.

Dzongkhags administrations along the river basin and the hydropower projects were the main stakeholders, among others.

Within hours after the alert, the cofferdam of Punatsangchhu II had overflown.

However, officials said the fore warning gave them enough time to remove heavy earth-moving machinery on time.

The Joint Managing Director of Punatsangchhu Hydropower Project, Dorji  Phuntshog Pawo said that timely information saved their equipment.

“When the dam was overflowing, we had removed all the machines,” he said.

The economic affairs minister and the chairperson of PHPA project, Lekey Dorji also visited the site yesterday while returning from Zhemgang.

“The overflowing of the cofferdam this time is not of concern,” he said.

The cofferdam was deliberately built to prevent the swelling rivers from impacting the infrastructure building of the project downstream.

This is the third time the cofferdam of the PHPA II had overflown from rising water levels of the Punatsangchhu.

Officials at the NCHM said that the heavy rains upstream of the rivers could have led to the swollen rivers.

The centre, through a public notification on August 7, had cautioned people of south and southeastern region of possible heavy rainfall in the next 72 hours.

Officials said the region is experiencing light rainfall currently but it is expected to increase over the days.

Phochu’s water level receded to normal level by yesterday evening.

Tshering Palden