RID reduces water release as dam levels fall

The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) will next month reduce water volumes being released from four major dams in the Chao Phraya River basin to save water for next years dry season.RID director-general Sanchai Ketworrachai  said Sunday the department is preparing to cut the volume of water discharged from the dams from more than 40 million cubic metres per day to about 30 million cu/m per day.The four are the Bhumibol dam in Tak, the Sirikit dam in Uttaradit, the Khwae Noi Bamrungdan dam in Phitsanulok and the Pasak Jolasid dam in Lop Buri.According to the RID, the Bhumibol dam holds only 24% of usable water while the Sirikit dam has 38%.Mr Sanchai, however, said major dams nationwide are storing water volumes of about 4.4 billion cu/m in total, or 60% of the dams total capacities.Of the total amount of water, 2.6 billion cu/m is usable, which is 40% higher than last year.He said the department needed to save water for tap water production and agriculture during next years dry season in the event there is no rainfall downstream from the dams during the upcoming rainy season, which usually starts in May.Mr Sanchai also asked for cooperation from the public to use water sparingly, particularly during the Songkran festival next month.Besides the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, agencies nationwide will encourage farmers to refrain from cultivating off-season rice and grow alternative crops which consume less water instead.Meanwhile, Suchart Charoensri, director of the 12th Irrigation Office in Chai Nat, said water levels in the Chao Phraya dam in Sapphaya district remain at 15 metres lower than standard level.However, he assured local farmers the office will be able to release water from the dam to their paddy fields in May, adding the dam will release water volumes of 70 cu/m per second to preserve local ecology and push out salt water.Mr Suchart also asked for cooperation from farmers to refrain from growing off-season rice to save water.In Kanchanaburi, a loss of about 2 million baht in tourism revenue is expected during the Songkran holiday following the closure of Huay Mae Khamin waterfall in Srinakarin Dam National Park due to a dry spell, according to park chief Thiti Somphee.The seven-tier Huay Mae Khamin is said to be the countrys second most beautiful, next to the Erawan waterfall in the Erawan National Park, also in Si Sawat district.It has been closed indefinitely since March 13 as the water in the waterfall, which is a major tourist attraction, has been reduced to a trickle, Mr Thiti said.Mr Thiti said authorities decided to close the park waterfall until the amount of water returned normal.He said Huay Mae Khamin usually bring sin tourism revenue of about 3 million baht per year, 2 million baht in the month of April alone.Despite the closure of Huay Mae Khamin, the park is still providing other services, including camping and lodging, and tourists can visit the park for free.