Jul 30, 2018

Unlucky Thirteen

Managing Editor Lauren Baltas discusses a soccer team trapped in a flooded Thailand cave and the value of the storm water industry

SWS Managing Editor discusses the value of the storm water industry

There are certain headlines that stop the storm water industry in its tracks. They remind us of the immediacy and relevance of storm water management and the power of weather events. The Thai cave rescue mission is one of these stories.

A soccer team of 12 boys, age 11 to 16, and their male coach, age 25, ventured to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in Thailand June 23. Due to heavy rain, flash floods soon trapped them inside, forcing them to retreat deeper into the caves. They were not located until July 2, when they were 4 km deep into the caves and approximately 800 to 1,000 meters below the surface, according to CNN. Survival and rescue missions began. According to NPR, to extricate the group from the cave systems, millions of gallons of water were pumped out of the cave system, and the New York Times reported that weirs were built outside the entrance to control the water level within the caves. Divers traversed the passageways, eventually rescuing all 13 people by July 10-more than two weeks after the group entered the caves. This news begs the question of why the group ventured into the caves during monsoon season, when there is a high likelihood they knew the potential dangers. Mother Nature will not compromise, which the group quickly discovered as they retreated from the floodwaters. 

In the storm water and erosion control industry, we concern ourselves with small acts that have resounding, albeit often delayed, impacts—filtering storm water that eventually reaches our rivers, lakes and oceans; soil stabilization to prevent mudslides; rainwater harvesting when water resources become scarce. But when weather events like this occur, the immediate impact of storm water on our lives is intense and clear.     

About the author

Lauren Baltas | managing editor | [email protected]

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