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160 districts in Thailand warned of drought

The Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) has warned of water shortages in 160 districts in the north and northeast due to the low level of water in dams and reservoirs and an anticipated lack of rain in July and August.

Somkiart Prajamwong, ONWR secretary-general, told the Royal Irri​gation Department, the Elec​tricity Generating Authority of Thai​land and the Department of Alter​native Energy Development and Ef​fi​ciency to review their projection of water reserves in the dams under their supervision and manage water discharge accordingly.

Somkiart said the Hydro Infor​matics Institute has predicted that a mild El Nino phenomenon will occur and last until next month, causing a rain shortage in the north, the east and the northeast.

Based on the data from the institute, 34 districts in six northern provinces, 71 districts in eight northeastern provinces and 55 districts in seven southern provinces could be hit with water shortages during the period.

He said the ONWR would coordinate with the Royal Rain Making Department to carry out rain seeding operations in drought areas to alleviate the suffering of those affected.

Somkiart noted that the Meteo​rological Department predicted that central and eastern provinces and Bangkok would have below-average rainfall by as much as 5% during the next three months while the north and northeast will see an average amount of rain.

He said Thailand now has about 39.622 billion cubic metres of water in water resources nationwide, or about 49% of storage capacity.

None of the 38 large water reservoirs around the country has water higher than 80% of its storage capacity.

Only three dams have stored up to around 60% to 80% of capacity, namely the Sri Nakarin Dam, Rat​cha​prapha Dam and Bang Lan Dam.

He said 15 large dams around the country have water below 15% of their capacity.

He noted that tropical storm Mun that was downgraded to a depression after it made landfall in Vietnam early this month did not unleash enough rain to allow water to flow into the reservoirs around the country and that rainfall in June was 30% lower than expected.

As a result, government agencies in charge of managing dams should retain the water for use during the dry period instead of releasing it in preparation for more rains, Som​kiart added