Big dams let water out to save rice crop

Big dams let water out to save rice crop

Water discharge from the country's two main dams, Bhumibol and Sirikit, is being sped up in a race against time to save vast areas of recently-planted paddy rice from drying out, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The efforts are part of a bid to supply enough water to feed the fields in the Central Plains.

Many areas are being targeted to receive the water with more than 17 million rai of paddy fields at risk of being lost.

Deputy Agricultural Minister Prapat Pothasuthon said Bhumibol dam in Tak province has been releasing water at a rate of 25 million cubic metres (m³) per day, up from 23 million m³ per day during the same period last year.

Sirikit dam in Uttaradit has seen a discharge of 20 million m³ of water per day, a million more than last year, the deputy minister said.

The two dams upped their discharge rate on Sunday and the water is expected to reach the country's important rice-growing areas in the Central Plains tomorrow), he said.

More than 400 water pump stations along the Ping and Nan rivers are now being ordered to suspend operation for three days to keep water from being siphoned off along the way so there is enough to flow to the targeted areas, he said.

In other drought-affected areas of the country, temporary centres were opened to coordinate help from the Interior Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to mitigate the impact of the drought, said Mr Prapat.

Provincial centres are also surveying locations suitable for groundwater drilling, he added.

Interior permanent secretary Chatchai Phromloet, meanwhile, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed the military to deploy aircraft and mobilise personnel to support artificial rain-making operations.

The premier also or­dered the provincial authorities to survey areas at risk of their taps running dry.

The survey will involve locating alternative sources of water, said Mr Chatchai.

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