Nakhon Ratchasima: The amount of usable water across 27 medium-sized reservoirs across this northeastern province has dropped to alarmingly low levels despite the rainy season, raising fears of an impending drought, according to a provincial irrigation office official.
As a result of the prolonged drought which preceded the arrival of this year's monsoon rain, water levels across the province's 27 medium-sized reservoirs have dropped to about 38%, or about 441 million cubic metres.
These include the four major reservoirs in the province -- namely Lam Takhong, Lam Phraplerng, Moon Bon, and Lam Sae -- which currently have 377 million m³ of usable water, or 42% of their full capacity. About 40% of the water currently stored in the aforementioned reservoirs has been earmarked for agricultural use, household consumption, and ecosystem maintenance.
If current trends continue, farmers will have a difficult time planting their crops. In a normal year, farmers rely on summer rains, which typically come between March and May, to replenish dams and reservoirs in the region.
However, due to the prevailing conditions brought on by the El Nino southern oscillation, this year's rainfall has been sparse and unpredictable, the office said, noting this year's average precipitation is down 14% compared to last year's figures.
According to the Office of National Water Resources (OWNR), the phenomenon will pick up at the end of this year.
Kittiphon Seemadua, a senior civil engineer at ONWR's Region 5 Office, said that the office has teamed up with the Provincial Irrigation Office 8 to draw up plans for a new medium-sized reservoir in tambon Dan Chang in Bua Yai district.
The plan will see a small water retention pond, which has been neglected for at least 50 years, turned into a 127-rai reservoir that will be able to hold 500,000m³ of water.
Once the reservoir is finished, it will help Bua Yai Municipality's Waterworks Division combat drought.