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Drought warnings grow as El Nino wakes up again

Written By NAFSO on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | 10:36:00 AM

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Water levels in major reservoirs have dropped to 45 per cent these days, the lowest levels in the past four years, Director of Water Management division of Irrigation Department Janaki Meegasthenna said.
Ms. Meegasthenna said that for the past four years the water levels in all 72 major reservoirs had been above 90 per cent.
“This time, however, rainfall decreased drastically and the water that went into the reservoirs was reduced. This will affect the Yala season – where the next paddy cultivation will be done,” she said.

Normally, 30 per cent of annual rainfall is reported in October and November and only 13 per cent of rainfall in March and April.
“Last October and November rainfall was not successful and the rain that we get from the ante-monsoon or in the months of March and April will not be enough to fill the drying reservoirs,” Ms. Meegasthenna said adding that there would be a small improvement but not one that will be necessary to meet the demands during these days.
She predicted that as a result of this reason paddy cultivation and other vegetations and hydro power production will be affected. “This could even lead to decrease in drinking water in dry zone areas. Government will have to adopt methods to provide water to families in these areas,” she said.
Further elaborating she said that water is distributed to areas such as Anuradhapura from the Nuwara Wewa.
“But the water level in this wewa is very low which means that it will have to be filled with water that is pumped from Nachchaduwa. This will be very costly,” she said.
There was a possibility of a drought throughout the country, the Director of the Hydrology Division of the Department of Irrigation, Ms. P. Hettiarachchi said. “Normally February has a less rainfall but since this year it was even lesser than other years we say that districts such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Ampara will be affected,” she said.
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation last month said there was an “enhanced possibility of the development of a weak El Nino around the middle of 2014. An El Nino weather pattern has a possibility of causing droughts and floods in different parts of the world.
The worst El Nino effect was recorded in the late 1990s, in which more than 2000 people around the world died in climate-linked incidents.
In India, Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar said this week that in mid-April there will be a probable El Nino effect in India and that the weather office was monitoring this.
The Meteorological Department of Sri Lanka, however, asserts that there are no threats in the weather pattern in Sri Lanka.
The Director of the Forecasting Division of the Meteorological Department, S. R. Jayasekara said that there would be rainfall in several parts of the country but the water would not be enough for large cultivations.
“The evaporation during these days is also very high and a small rainfall will not be enough to maintain a balance,” he said.
Mr. Jayasekara said that there was a depression in January 5 when Mannar, Vavuniya and Polonnaruwa areas received rain but in the hill country water supplies were inadequate.
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