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From floods to drought

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Thailand seesaws from too much water in Bangkok to too little in farming areas like Nan that need water for crops. 

Nan River

Photo above of Nan River at a low level as it passes through the city of Nan (Source: Wikipedia).

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WATER MANAGEMENT

Nan River basin faces drought crisis threat

12/03/2012 
Apinya Wipatayotin

The Nan River basin is being threatened by a drought crisis as a vast tract of forest in the area has been turned into cash crop plantations, water management experts have warned.

Sujarit Koontanakulvong, a water engineer from Chulalongkorn University, has expressed his concern over land use changes in the river basin, saying the transformation of natural forest land into mono-crop plantation could lead to a reduction in rainfall volume in the region.

The Nan River basin covers five provinces - Nan, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Phichit and Nakhon Sawan.

Mr Sujarit said most of the forest zone in the river basin had been replaced by maize and rubber plantations.

In Nan province alone, about 70% of the forest area has been turned into maize plantations.

Mr Sujarit and his team studied the link between forest coverage and rainfall patterns in Nan. They found that in the past, rain fell more frequently, but in smaller amounts than is now the case.

With a smaller forest area, rainfall tends to be less frequent but in much greater volume, which could trigger flash floods and landslides, the study suggested.

"With shrinking forest coverage, we project average rainfall in Nan will drop to lower than 1,111 millilitres per year, which means the river basin will enter a drought cycle," Mr Sujarit said.

He urged authorities to adjust the water management plan for Sirikit dam on the Nan River in response to the prospect of droughts.

He also called on state and private agencies to help support reforestation and forest conservation efforts.

Meanwhile, Thongplew Kongjan, director of the Royal Irrigation Department's hydrology division, said the government had adjusted its water management plan for the Sirikit and Bhumibol dams to make sure that there will be a sufficient water supply during the dry season.

The government previously announced that dam authorities would lower the water level in the two dams to 45% of their storage capacity to make sure there is enough room for inflow during the wet season.

However, due to the looming prospect of drought, the government had now instructed the department and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to plan the water storage level on a monthly basis. Mr Thongplew said the dam's water management plan would now be more flexible to better curb the problems of droughts and floods.

The department had been working on a water forecast model for this year. It is expected to be completed by March 25. The model will project flooding areas if water storage levels in the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams exceed 12 billion cubic metres. The model will also provide guidelines for authorities on how to quickly drain water out within 21 days of flooding.

(Source: Bangkok Post, WATER MANAGEMENT, Nan River basin faces drought crisis threat, 12/03/2012, Apinya Wipatayotin, link

Water Management Vocabulary

seesaw - 1. to go up and down; to change from one direction to the other direction; 2. plaything for children in playgrounds, a long narrow board with a child sitting on either end, each side goes up and down (See Wikipedia)

river basin - river drainage basin, an area of land where surface water from rain comes together to a single point, "usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean" (See Wikipedia)
Nan River - a river in Thailand. It is one of the most important tributaries of the Chao Phraya River แม่น้ำน่าน (See Wikipedia)
Nan river basin  
land use changes in the river basin

flash floods - a sudden and rapid flooding of  low-lying areas, may be caused by heavy rain associated with a storm, may occur after the collapse of a dam, happen in less than six hours (See Wikipedia)  น้ำป่า,  น้ำที่เกิดท่วมในที่ต่ำโดยฉับพลันทันทีและไหลลดลงอย่างรวดเร็ว
landslides - when wet earth slides down the side of a hill or mountain (See Wikipedia) แผ่นดินถล่ม

drought - a period when there is very little rain or water in an area (See Wikipedia) ความแห้งแล้ง
crisis - an urgent, difficult or dangerous situation วิกฤตการณ์ วิกฤต
threat - a danger อันตราย
drought crisis - a difficult and dangerous situation of water not being available
drought crisis threat  
Nan River basin faces
drought crisis threat

hydrology - "the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth ... including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability" (See Wikipedia)
watershed - Same as "river basin"
hydrologic cycle - "the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth" in the form of rain, clouds, rivers, oceans, etc; "Water can change states among liquid, vapor, and solid at various places in the water cycle. Although the balance of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time, individual water molecules can come and go, in and out of the atmosphere. The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow. In so doing, the water goes through different phases: liquid, solid, and gas" (See Wikipedia)

threatened - telling someone that if they don't do it, they will be punished
vast - extremely large in area, size, amount, etc. กว้างใหญ่, มหาศาล มหึมา
vast tract of forest -  very large areas of forest
cash - money เงินสด
cash crop - a crop grown for profit, not to feed the grower's own family (subsistence) or to feed the grower's own animals (See Wikipedia)
plantations - large farms ไร่ นาขนาดใหญ่
cash crop plantations - large farms that grow crops for a profit
turned into cash crop plantations

The Nan River basin is being threatened by a drought crisis as a vast tract of forest in the area has been turned into cash crop plantations, water management experts have warned.

concern - a worry ความกังวล
expressed his concern over
transformation - change
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
mono - one
mono-crop plantation - a large farm growing only one crop
transformation of natural forest land into mono-crop plantation
volume - the quantity or amount of something
rainfall volume - the amount of rain falling during a period of time

Sujarit Koontanakulvong, a water engineer from Chulalongkorn University, has expressed his concern over land use changes in the river basin, saying the transformation of natural forest land into mono-crop plantation could lead to a reduction in rainfall volume in the region.

forest zone - forest area, large area of land with trees
maize - corn ข้าวโพด (See Wikipedia)

The Nan River basin covers five provinces - Nan, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Phichit and Nakhon Sawan. Mr Sujarit said most of the forest zone in the river basin had been replaced by maize and rubber plantations. In Nan province alone, about 70% of the forest area has been turned into maize plantations.

link - to connect เชื่อม
forest coverage - land covered by trees (not stripped for farms)

Mr Sujarit and his team studied the link between forest coverage and rainfall patterns in Nan. They found that in the past, rain fell more frequently, but in smaller amounts than is now the case.

frequent - happening often เกิดขึ้นบ่อย
less frequent - not happening as often
trigger - cause
trigger flash floods - cause flash floods
cycle - a series of events repeated over and over again (in the same order)

With a smaller forest area, rainfall tends to be less frequent but in much greater volume, which could trigger flash floods and landslides, the study suggested.

shrinking - decreasing in size
shrinking forest coverage - less and less trees covering an area
we project average rainfall in Nan will drop

the river basin will enter a drought cycle

"With shrinking forest coverage, we project average rainfall in Nan will drop to lower than 1,111 millilitres per year, which means the river basin will enter a drought cycle," Mr Sujarit said.

urged - requested them to do, begged them to do; advised someone very strongly about what action should be taken วิงวอน
authorities - government officials; the police or people in official organisations who have the legal power to make people obey laws or rules เจ้าหน้าที่ (ตำรวจ หรือผู้มีอำนาจ)
adjust - to change something slightly, especially to make it more correct, effective, or suitable ปรับ
prospect - the possibility that something will happen in the future ความคาดหวัง ความหวังข้างหน้า อนาคต

He urged authorities to adjust the water management plan for Sirikit dam on the Nan River in response to the prospect of droughts.

state - government รัฐ
state agencies - government departments
private agencies - either run by companies or NGOs
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน
reforestation - planting new trees (in places where there was once trees but not now)
conservation - the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
forest conservation
forest conservation efforts
efforts - the work done towards achieving some goal; people trying to accomplish something, achieve a goal ความพยายาม

He also called on state and private agencies to help support reforestation and forest conservation efforts.

division - one part of a large organisation
hydrology division
sufficient - enough พอเพียง
sufficient water supply - having enough water for future use

Meanwhile, Thongplew Kongjan, director of the Royal Irrigation Department's hydrology division, said the government had adjusted its water management plan for the Sirikit and Bhumibol dams to make sure that there will be a sufficient water supply during the dry season.

storage - the putting and keeping of things in a special place for use in the future การเก็บ
capacity - the total amount that can be contained ปริมาณสูงสุดที่จะรับได้
storage capacity - the total amount that can be stored (kept for future use) 

The government previously announced that dam authorities would lower the water level in the two dams to 45% of their storage capacity to make sure there is enough room for inflow during the wet season.

looming - a threatening and worrying situation seems likely to happen soon; seeming likely to happen soon ที่เห็นลางๆ
the looming prospect of drought - the possibility of a drought in the near future
on a monthly basis - done every month 
plan the water storage level on a monthly basis
flexible -
can be changed easily
the dam's water management plan would now be more flexible
curb
- to stop, reduce, control or limit something that is harmful ระงับ, ควบคุม ลดหรือยุติ
curb the problems of droughts and floods

However, due to the looming prospect of drought, the government had now instructed the department and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to plan the water storage level on a monthly basis. Mr Thongplew said the dam's water management plan would now be more flexible to better curb the problems of droughts and floods.

forecast - a statement about what will happen in the future based on information available now พยากรณ์
water forecast model - a system for determine how much water is likely to flow through rivers using math and the science of hydrology 
expected - believe will happen คาดว่า (จะเกิดขึ้น)
exceed - to be more than something; to go beyond a limit;  to be greater than a number or amount เกินปริมาณ เกินกว่าที่กำหนด
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
guidelines - directions and instructions on how to do something World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
guidelines - rules to help guide action แนวทาง นโยบาย
provide guidelines

The department had been working on a water forecast model for this year. It is expected to be completed by March 25. The model will project flooding areas if water storage levels in the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams exceed 12 billion cubic metres. The model will also provide guidelines for authorities on how to quickly drain water out within 21 days of flooding.

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