Water supplies in major dams continue to plunge
published : 24 Mar 2016 at 19:18
writer: Online Reporters
Water supplies in the four main dams of the Chao Phraya River basin continue to decrease, irrigation officials say, forcing authorities to dramatically lower mains pressure to popular tourist areas over Songkran.
Khon Kaen's Ubonratana dam, meanwhile, has sufficient supplies to last for just 11 days.
Dam director Worawit Raweenipapong said Thursday the water level of the reservoir had dropped to below critical point. It has just 16 million cubic metres of usable water, or 1% of capacity, which will feed taps only until April 4.
He said about 500 million cu/m of water had been held in reserve to be used in case of an emergency before the rainy season arrives.
Mr Worawit urged people to take stronger measures to conserve water as the reserves can only be used if the situation is truly critical.
The artificial rain-making operations to combat the drought had not worked well because of a lack of favourable weather conditions, he added.
The Royal Irrigation Department reported that the combined water level in the four major dams of the Chao Phraya River basin stood at about 2.5 billion cu/m, or 14% of total capacity.
The storage levels of the Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwai Noi Bamrung Dan and Pasak Jolasid four dams were at 7%, 19%, 30% and 35% respectively, as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, the water level in the Chao Phraya dam in Chai Nat on Thursday stood at 5.96 metres above mean sea level, which will be sufficient for tap water production in downstream provinces, including Bangkok, for three months.
More than 40 provinces are suffering from scarce water supplies.
The secretary-general of the Office of Agricultural Economics, Surapong Jiasakul, said the drought had damaged almost 3 million rai of farmland, of which about 2 million was paddy, and affected more than 270,000 farmers. The damage was estimated at 15.5 billion baht.
Mr Surapong said the Meteorological Department had predicted rain in May at higher levels than for the same period last year. But water for household and agricultural consumption would still have to be carefully managed in the early stages as dams needed to be filled first to maintain the eco-system.
Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) deputy governor Chumpon Chokepongudomchai said the drought had forced three offices to suspend water services at certain times and 17 others to reduce discharge rates.
But he insisted the PWA could supply water to the public until the end of the drought.
The PWA has set aside 2 billion baht for urgent short-term measures to solve and prevent drought problems. The money would be spent on drilling artesian wells, improving water resources, building water retention areas and distributing water reserves.
Mr Chumpon said the discharge rate of water at some tourist areas during Songkran festival, such as Chiang Mai's Tha Phae Gate, would be curtailed.
The PWA will organise marches in all provinces to encourage people to save water. The campaign starts in Pathum Thani on Friday, he added.