By Chularat Saengpassa
The Meteorological Department has also admitted that rainfall this year will be the lowest in a decade.
“Some provinces in the Northeast, like Buri Ram and Surin, face the risk of taps running dry,” Samroeng Sangphuwong said this week in his capacity as deputy secretary-general at the Office of the National Water Resources.
According to him, the water level in seven large Northeast dams is below 30 per cent. These dams are Chulabhorn in Chaiyaphum (28 per cent), Lampao in Kalasin (27 per cent), Ubolrat in Khon Kaen (24 per cent), Lam Nang Rong in Buri Ram (23 per cent), Huai Luang in Udon Thani (23 per cent), Namphung in Sakon Nakhon (21 per cent), and Lam Phra Ploeng in Nakhon Ratchasima (15 per cent). In addition, water levels in as many as 97 medium reservoirs in the area are also below 30 per cent.
"Drought will likely hit 105 districts of 12 provinces in the Northeast namely Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Kalasin, Yasothon, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket and Nakhon Ratchasima,” Samroeng concluded.
People living in Khon Kaen’s Muang district are already lamenting that they have to purchase water for consumption at Bt40 to Bt50 per container.
Drought has also ravaged thousands of paddy fields in Nakhon Ratchasima, with locals in Phimai district saying this is the worst drought in 50 years.
Meanwhile, Kornravee Sitthichivapak, deputy director general of the Meteorological Department, admitted that even though the rainy season officially began on May 12, the rainfall is far below the average.
“Overall the rainfall is the lowest in 10 years,” she said, adding that this might be because the low-pressure ridges were not powerful enough to induce rain.
In a Facebook post, Plodprasop Suraswadi, a former natural resources and environment minister, advised the government to inform the public of the imminent drought, adding that he visited the Ubolrat Dam last weekend and believes the water-shortage problem will worsen.
“I am certain that El Nino phenomenon will intensify this year. Temperatures will rise and rain will become scarcer,” he said.
He claimed that many academics were aware of these threats, but did not dare speak up due to concerns of possible consequences by the powers that be.