The coming of Royal Rainmakers was announced by Phuket Provincial PR Department yesterday (Sept 6) while the rainmaking program itself officially started the day before (Sept 5) and is planned to continue until November 15.
Cloud seeding will be conducted by the Southern Royal Rainmaking Operation Center based in Surat Thani. The center will use a CN-235 turboprop transport airplane to seed clouds and induce rain over Phuket's main reservoirs – Bang Neow Dum in Srisoonthorn, Bang Wad in Kathu and Khlong Kratha in Chalong. The latter two will be prioritised.
“This rainmaking activity will fill the three reservoirs in Phuket and help local residents while rainfall is diminished,” Phuket Provincial PR Department said.
“Those residents or farmers who lack water and need rainmaking can contact the Southern Royal Rainmaking Operation Center by calling 077 953062 during the office hours, from 8.30am till 4:30pm,” PR Department added.
In March and April this year, the Southern Royal Rainmaking Operation Center made three attempts to induce rain in Phuket but never succeeded. The first cloud seeding resulted in rain falling in Phang Nga province, the second brought a fallout over the Andaman Sea while the third did not induce any rain at all.
Wiraphon Sudchada, head of the Southern Royal Rainmaking Operation Center at that time, explained that cloud seeding can only be done when two key factors coincide; clouds should be present and air traffic should be permitting the Royal Rainmakers to undertake their operation.
“Air traffic is a major factor as Phuket and Krabi airports are very busy and therefore the window of opportunity is small,” Mr Wiraphon explained.
In late August this year Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana received a direct order from Minister of Interior Gen Anupong Paochinda to start taking active steps to prevent any water shortages. Same order was given to the governors of other provinces as well.
“Minister Anupong informed that the Privy Council of Thailand as a situation observer had suggested that all relevant officials should solve the problems of local people as ordered by HM The King and apply the knowledge taught by King Rama 9 to solve problems in each area. Officials should pay attention to drafting plans for solving the problem of a lack of water, and emphasise water management to distribute to local houses,” Gov Phakaphong said at a meeting with Phuket officials on August 26.
“Minister Anupong also said that in order to prepare officials for helping people and solve the water problems, he will send officers from the central government to suggest and plan short and long-term solutions for Phuket,” he added.
As of August 26, the Office of Natural Water Resources (ONWR), a government agency set up by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha specifically to monitor and manage water reserves around the country, reported that Phuket’s main water-supply reserve, Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu, contained only 1.31 million cubic metres of water – just 12.85% of its 10.2mn m3 capacity.
Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn was only 4.49% full, containing 0.32mn m3 of its 7.2mn m3 capacity, the agency said.
ONWR does not monitor Khlong Kratha reservoir in Chalong, though on August 21 the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office (PIO) reported that the reservoir had 1.3mn m3 of water, about 30% of its capacity.
To put it into perspective, on April 30 – at the height of this year's “not water crisis” – Bang Wad had 0.82mn m3 of water, Bang Neow Dum had 0.76mn m3, Klong Kratha had 0.97mn m3. According to the Phuket PIO, those were the lowest levels ever recorded.