Ubolratana Dam at critical level

Ubolratana Dam at critical level

Once-floating restaurants near the Ubolratana Dam in Khon Kaen province put up makeshift walkways to continue serving customers on March 26 after the water level in the reservoir fell to less than 1%. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Once-floating restaurants near the Ubolratana Dam in Khon Kaen province put up makeshift walkways to continue serving customers on March 26 after the water level in the reservoir fell to less than 1%. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Water levels at major dams continue to fall, with one major Khon Kaen dam now at a 23-year low, but authorities say successful rainmaking has helped improve conditions.

The Ubolratana Dam in the northeastern province is running dry with no storage water left, forcing authorities to draw 20 million of the 500 million cubic metres of thicker bottom water to date, according to Royol Jitdon, director of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute.

"Bottom water is generally kept to stabilise a dam but at the Ubolratana Dam there is no choice. We estimate 180 million cu m of the bottom water there will be drawn until July, the start of the rainy season," he said.

In 1993, authorities had to use 200 million of bottom water from the reservoir, he added.

The reservoirs at the four major dams on the Chao Phraya River have a combined 2.09 billion cu m at present (see chart below). From Nov 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, 3.5 billion cu m will have to be released for consumption and ecological balance. To date, 2.8 billion cu m have been discharged.

In Narathiwat, some parts of the Sungai-Kolok River have dried up to the point that people can walk across it to Kelantan state in Malaysia.

The worst affected sections are in Waeng and Tak Bai districts where the riverbed can be seen seen.   

However, the government said rainmaking had added 51.55 million cu m into reservoirs since mid-February, raising the reserve water forecast at the beginning of the rainy season.

Since Feb 15, rainmaking units have created rain in 76.9% of the targeted areas in 41 provinces, Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a Government House spokesman, said on Saturday.

"We expect water reserves at major dams at the start of the rainy season (May to July) at 1.81 billion cu m, higher than 1.35 billion forecast earlier," he said.


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