El Nino drought: Thailand braces for potential impact, agencies prepare

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The National Water Resources Office of Thailand (ONWR), the country’s central agency for water resource management, warns of a potential drought due to the influence of a “mild” El Nino weather phenomenon. In a recently held meeting, the ONWR pressed associated agencies to prepare for a likely dry spell.

The meeting held yesterday brought together representatives from various domains, including the Thai Meteorological Department, the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Royal Irrigation, the Department of Mineral Resources, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat). The central theme of the gathering was preparatory measures for this year’s expected El Nino drought.

Boonsom Chonpitakwong, the ONWR’s deputy secretary-general, conveyed that, contrary to the predicted rainfall amounts based on recent years’ averages, this year’s rainy season had been significantly milder. Chonpitakwong pointed to ongoing El Nino droughts in certain regions of the North and Central Plains, despite the onset of the rainy season in Thailand.

According to the briefing from a representative of the Royal Irrigation Department during the meeting, water supplies preparation is underway in line with the department’s water management plan around the Chao Phraya River basin to cope with the El Nino drought, reported Bangkok Post.

“We are encountering multiple weather systems akin to El Nino, which we expect to escalate to moderately severe levels between October and December. Our ONE MAP model predicted the volume of water held in 35 large-scale reservoirs countrywide will reach 46.177 billion cubic metres, equivalent to 65% of their total capacity. And we have less than half for utility, or 22.635 billion cubic metres, which is less than last year,” he explained.

Boonsom asserted the need for a two-year water management plan, citing Thai Meteorological Department’s data suggesting the likelihood of these El Nino drought conditions persisting till mid-next year.

Earlier this month, weather experts warned Thailand of a chance of unusually low rainfall and droughts this year due to the El Nino weather pattern. In response, Thailand Science Research and Innovation held an annual conference to discuss water management in light of the El Nino phenomenon. The event saw participation from researchers and officials from relevant agencies, discussing climate change, water management, and potential challenges of the El Nino drought.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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