Water restrictions in effect
Water in Ubol Ratana dam, one of the main sources of water in the Northeast, has dropped to critically low levels, prompting the implementation of emergency restrictions on its use, according to the Royal Irrigation Department.
Department chief Thongplew Kongjun said on Wednesday the dam holds about 521 million cubic metres of water, equivalent to only 21% of its total capacity, which is well below its optimum level.
The depth of the dam has decreased so much that residents are concerned there might not be enough water to last them until the rainy season arrives in the middle of next year.
Ubol Ratana dam in Khon Kaen, along with the Chulabhorn dam in Chaiyaphum, supply water to provinces in the Chee River basin, including Maha Sarakham, Kalasin and Roi Et.
At present, Chulabhorn dam is also running low with only 9.3 million cubic metres of usable water left.
"Water from the [Ubol Ratana and Chulaborn] dams is being reserved for consumption and ecological conservation," said the RID chief.
"No water shall be diverted for growing crops at this time."
The department is planning to reduce the amount of water tapped from Ubol Ratana dam and channel what little is left there to where it is needed the most -- including residents in Maha Sarakham's Muang district.
"Water from the Ubol Ratana dam has to be managed prudently to prevent water shortages in the Northeast," said Mr Thongplew.
In order to prevent shortages in the future, the RID is looking to build three more reservoirs in Chaiyaphum -- Wang Saphung dam in Nong Bua Daeng district, Lam Nam Chee dam in Ban Khwao district, and Prong Khun Petch in Nong Bua Rawe district.
The dams are designed to have a combined capacity of 160 million cubic metres of water, which can be diverted to 127,000 rai of farmland in the area.