More rain needed to replenish dams
CHAI NAT: The rain brought on by Tropical Storm Sinlaku may have caused flooding across 13 provinces in the North and the Northeast, but water management agencies are hoping more rain will come to replenish the major reservoirs which feed the farmlands in the Central Plains.
"This year's precipitation is 5% below average, and most rain -- including that brought on by Sinlaku -- fell in the North and Northeast, which is outside our catchment area," said the chief of the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), Somkiat Prajamwong, told reporters as he led a press trip to inspect Chai Nat's irrigation infrastructure.
Authorities are hoping more water will flow into the Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pasak Jolasid and Kwai Noi Bamrung Dan dams -- major reservoirs in the Central Plains which feed the country's largest farmlands -- over the next two months.
"We will have to wait until the end of September before we can make water consumption and management plans for next year," he said.
Thailand has suffered acute water shortages since 2018 because of droughts. The little rain which does fall does not flow into the country's main reservoirs, due to the poor state of irrigation networks outside of the country's agricultural centre.
The situation this year is no better -- despite the widespread flooding in the North and Northeast, Thailand is at risk of a severe water shortage as water reserves in the country's major reserves are way too low.
The amount of useable water in Bhumibol dam in Tak, for instance, is equal to only 1% of its total capacity -- forcing the government to ask farmers in the Central Plains to postpone this season's harvest, as it does not have enough water to meet their demands.
Krisada Sriphiumpun, director of the 12th Irrigation Office based in Chai Nat, said the province's Chao Phraya dam currently only has enough water to supply 3.5 million rai of farmlands this year.
"We expected to plant rice on 8.1 million rai of farms this year, which is already a little lower than last year," he said.
"We hope rainfall over the next two months will help us reach our target."
... and more is on the way
By Post Reporters
More rain is forecast for all regions into next week, even though Storm Sinlaku has left the country.
Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) yesterday predicted sporadic rain in the northern, northeastern, eastern and southern regions until Tuesday, with flash floods possible in some areas.
Most parts of the country have had little rainfall this year but received a deluge when Sinlaku moved in last weekend, before it lost strength and moved away.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said the storm affected 20,622 households in 13 provinces and caused three fatal incidents, in Nong Bua Lam Phu, Phitsanulok and Udon Thani. The flooding had since eased in all provinces and assistance was provided to the affected areas, it added.
The precipitation brought by the tropical storm to much of the country has been welcome but some areas in the Northeast, especially Nakhon Ratchasima, are still suffering from water shortages.
The Mun Bon dam in Khon Buri district, one of the five major dams in the province, has only 24.42 million cubic metres of water in its reservoir.
That equates to about 17% of its capacity of 141 million cubic metres, according to Sakda Yudet, the director of irrigation and maintenance at the dam.
Eight months into the year, only 6.46 million cubic metres of rainwater has flowed into the reservoir, whereas the average annual water intake is 94 million cubic metres.
As a results, the dam cannot distribute much-needed water to farms through irrigation canals.
About 5,000 rai in tambons Chorakhe Hin, Oraphim and Khon Buri Tai of Khon Buri district are now without water and rice plants are dying.
Meanwhile, the Department of Highways (DoH) yesterday announced the re-opening of the steel bridge on the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai road in Chiang Mai's Doi Saket district.
The DoH shut the bridge on Tuesday after it was damaged by forest run-off but it was swiftly repaired.