Drought fears soar as monsoon to end

Drought fears soar as monsoon to end

Rainmaking operations are needed in areas likely to face water shortages, as the wet weather is expected to end in the middle of next month.

In contrast to currently soaked provinces, many other areas have fallen short of their average yearly rainfall since June, leaving their reservoirs with low levels of water -- some are at less than 30% of their capacity, Surasi Kittimonthon, chief of the Royal Rainmaking and Agriculture Aviation Department said.

Two large dams -- Mae Mok in Lampang's Thoen district and Thap Salao in Uthai Thani's Lan Sak district -- are at 27% and 26% of their capacity, respectively, while smaller reservoirs, especially Huai Chorakhe Mak in Buri Ram's Muang district, is at a staggeringly low 3% capacity, officials said.

Huai Chorakhe Mak is the main source of tap water production for the downtown and economic centre of Buri Ram.

The situation has prompted Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach to start artificial rain operations as the Meteorological Department expects the rainy season will last until mid-October.

"We need to make sure the water goes to dams that are at 60% capacity or less," he said.

With this amount used as a baseline, a total of 143 reservoirs will need more water, according to the National Water Resources Office.

Eleven of these are categorised as large dams, including Mae Kuang Udom Thara (42% capacity) in Chiang Mai's Doi Saket district, Ubolratana (31%) in Khon Kaen's Ubon Ratana district, and Bang Lang (46%) in Yala's Bannang Sata district.

To ensure the artificial rain covers those areas that are most in need, Mr Surasi said his department would work in tandem with the air force, which will increase its fleet of aircraft tasked with this mission to 21.

However, officials in Buri Ram say they cannot wait long for assistance as the issue is pressing. Buri Ram irrigation chief Kittikun Sephasiraphon said officials are solving the problem by diverting between 50,000 cubic metres and 100,000 cu/m of water from the Mat River to Huai Chorakhe Mak reservoir every day.

The river is located about 16km from the reservoir.

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