ONWR seeks measures for dry season

ONWR seeks measures for dry season

A national water management panel wants the Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives Ministry to draw up measures to accommodate the annual rice crop without affecting the water disbursement plan for the 2019-2020 dry season.

Somkiat Prajamwong, chief of the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), said the measures are necessary for some 1.27 million rai of farms, after the water-management plan for this rainy season did not go as planned as farmers consumed about 1.35 billion cubic metres of water.

He added rice farmers in eight central provinces -- Suphan Buri, Uthai Thani, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin, Buri Ram and Chaiyaphum -- have also been advised not to plant a second crop due to inadequate water supplies.

Farmers who rely on the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams are likely to be worst hit, he said, adding they too should refrain from a second crop.

He added the situation in the North, Northeast and Central regions also looks bleak as rain forecast for November and December is 30% and 50% below average respectively.

Worse, water levels in 38 key reservoirs are below 50%, at just 23.8 billion cubic metres, while 10 dams, including Bhumibol, Chulabhorn and Ubonrat, are less than 30% full. He said the panel has also told ONWR to seek regional cooperation in efforts to alleviate water shortages in provinces where people are dependent on the Mekong River.

The El Nino weather pattern is expected to worsen water shortages in the Mekong region, he said, noting the agency will work closely with the Interior Ministry to seek more water resources.

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