Wednesday, November 13, 2019

No water for irrigation this dry season

Nov 27. 2018
Ubonrat Dam
Ubonrat Dam
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THERE WILL be enough water for consumption for everybody this dry season, the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) assured, despite the fact that water reserves in many dams are running low. 

Thongplew Kongjun, RID director-general, assured the public yesterday that the country will have enough water for domestic consumption and businesses during this dry season, though farmers in some parts of the country cannot plant a dry-season crop, due to insufficient water for irrigation.

He said that water levels in Mae Mok Dam in Sukhothai and the Ubonrat Dam in Khon Kaen were low, holding 28 per cent and 10 per cent of their capacity respectively.

Farmers in the irrigation zone of these dams will not have water for farming, but there was enough water to feed household taps and to retain the ecosystem, he said. 

“We are certain that there were be enough water for consumption for the rest of this dry season until the rains come in May,” he said. 

“Nevertheless, we encourage people to use water wisely, while we also encourage farmers to grow crops that consume less water such as maize instead of rice.”

According to the RID, the authorities have earmarked 23.1 billion cubic metres of water for the entire country during the dry season, which runs from November 1 to April 30. Reservoirs now have 36.5 billion cubic metres available nationwide.

Water allocated to the Chao Phraya River Basin for all purposes will be 8 billion cubic metres, the RID reported, while the currently available water in the basin sits at 12.4 billion cubic metres.

Low water levels in reservoirs

However, the Smart Water Operation Centre has reported that many of the reservoirs have very low levels. 

According to the water situation report, five large dams, namely Mae Mok Dam (28 per cent), Sirindhorn Dam (25 per cent), Thab Salao Dam (21 per cent), Kraseaw Dam (13 per cent) and Ubonrat Dam (10 per cent), were less than 30-per-cent full.

In addition, 36 medium-sized reservoirs are also less than 30-per-cent full. 

Given the low level of water available, the RID has released water-management procedures, saying dams that are less than 60 per cent full should be very careful about discharging water so as to avoid the risk of drought. Dams in the Northeast, which regularly suffers drought, should be particularly careful.

The RID also calls for reservoirs with levels under 30 per cent, to discharge water for domestic consumption and ecosystem retention only.

Thongplew also revealed that the RID has already planned many new large-scale irrigation projects in every region to cope with upcoming drought issues.

He said many projects had already passed the Environmental Impact Assessment process and were ready to begin construction within the next year, including the Sri Songrak Watergate in Loei and Lam Saphung Reservoir in Chaiyaphum.

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