The Office of National Water Resources has warned Chiang Rai and 7 other lower Mekong provinces to brace for a decrease in water levels. Because the Jinghong dam in China is expected decrease of water outflows.
According to the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR); Chiang Rai; Loei; Nakhon Phanom; Nong Khai; Mukdahan; Bung Kan; Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani will see Mekong water levels drop as testing at Jinghong dam begins.
China’s Ministry of Water Resources, the tests will see water outflows from the dam reduced from 1-3, the ONWR said.
The volume of water discharge will be further reduced on Jan 4, before it returns to its original levels. As a result water levels along the Mekong are likely to drop by around 40-60 centimeters in the initial stages of the test.
ONWR secretary-general, Somkiat Prajamwong said when outflow is restricted water levels are likely to dip by a further 30-50cm on the Mekong.
According to Mr Somkiat, Chiang Rai will start see water levels drop between Jan 2-5, while Ubon Ratchathani will see the impact between Jan 16-19.
Furthermore the tests also come during a period of severe drought across Thailand.
The Hydro-Informatics Institute said that 2020’s outlook remains grim as major reservoirs across the country are at critical levels. The low water levels are also due to lower-than-average precipitation this year.
Nine major reservoirs are currently holding less than 30% of their total storage capacity, namely; Lam Phra Phloeng; Lam Nang Rong; Mae Kuang; Pasak; Thap Sela; Krasiew; Khlong Si Yat; Chulabhorn and Ubol Ratana.
According to the institute, the total amount of rainfall in 2019 was also 18% below average.