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Unseasonal Deluge in Thailand Sparks Potential Lifeline for Farmers: A Climate Change Miracle or Catastrophe Waiting to Unfold?

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As Thailand continues to experience incessant heavy downpour, the reservoir at Vajiralongkorn dam located in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi is witnessing a significant increase in its water level. This unexpected increase in water volume owes to days of relentless rainfall, highlighting the significant impact that climate change and weather patterns can have on a region’s water management system.

The occurrence of this unprecedented increase in water volume has led the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to contemplate releasing reserves of water stored within these dams. This decision aims to benefit the local farmers, specifically with their second rice crop planting. The fact that the rainfall levels this year have surpassed the expected levels has illuminated a silver lining for the farming community in the region.

Captain Thamanat Prompow, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, affirmed that the Department of Royal Irrigation has reported a noticeable increase in water volumes in several dams across the nation. This is primarily due to the monsoons that have been continuously impacting the country since July. Regions that have witnessed greater rainfall include the Central plains, the Northeast and lower North of Thailand.

Earlier this year, the ministry had expressed misgivings about the feasibility of supporting water management for the second rice crop plantation. This was because the dam water levels were seriously low, particularly in irrigation zones. However, this recent bout of heavy rainfall brought relief to these zones as water levels saw unprecedented increases. Dams with over 80% of their storage capacity full increased to seventeen, and fourteen dams witnessed a fill-up of over 81% of their storage capacity, equating to significantly increased volumes of water.

This greater than anticipated volume of stored water suggests that additional water could be discharged to support the second rice planting round. If more water can indeed be released for this purpose, it is estimated that figures for the second plantation will be comparable to last year’s approximation.

Yet, any decision in this regard will require the green light from the rice planting committee. Following this, the decision will be forwarded to the National Water Resource Committee for due consideration. Expressing his thoughts on the flood situation in the Northeast, Thamanat envisions a recovery taking shape in the Chi-Moon River basin within approximately 20 days, or by November 10.

Thamanat further emphasized the ministry’s continued engagement in water management, especially in the Central Plains. The aim is to minimize the possible adverse impacts on the people by diverting increased volumes of water to water retention zones in rice fields. The current volume of water usage stands at 31.87 billion cubic meters, which is a deficit of 6.87 billion cubic meters from last year’s records.

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