Author Topic: Thailand's drought crisis  (Read 3207 times)

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Offline thaiga

Thailand's drought crisis
« on: June 26, 2015, 07:03:56 PM »
Tap water rationing possible in 8 provinces

Villagers get their water jars filled by a truck from a government agency in Buri Ram province in February 2014. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Tap water may be rationed in the near future in parts of eight provinces due to the severe, continuing drought this year, the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) has warned.

PWA governor Rattana Kitchawan said an examination of raw water supply for the 234 PWA branches nationwide indicated the authority was still able to supply tap water to a majority of users, with three branches in Chachoengsao and one in Prachin Buri affected by salinity.

However, water rationing is likely to be necessary by 10 PWA branches in eight provinces -- Chanthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surat Thani, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Amnat Charoen, Nakhon Sawan and Phetchabun.

She said rationing of tap water would be delayed if possible, but the drought this year was the most severe in decades.

Water was rationed by four branches in 2014, but this year 10 branch offices were currently being supplied only at prearranged times.

The authority had been monitoring the water situation on a real time basis around the clock, in order to best handle the problem, she said.

Branches where water is a less severe problem were on standby to provide free tap water to tanker trucks from government agencies to distribute to people in areas most seriously affected

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Water level of Mun River in Buriram hits lowest level in 3 decades

According to the northeastern province of Buriram, the area’s Mun River has reached its lowest levels in 30 years, greatly affecting the fisheries and agricultural sectors.

The provincial irrigation office said the Mun River is at its lowest in three decades, with a maximum depth of only three meters. The coastal depth has decreased from nine meters to only 18 centimeters. The lack of rain severely deprives the Mun River of water, which heavily impacts local agriculturalists.

Fishermen and farmers along the river are the worst hit by the unusual low water level. Farmlands in Buriram are facing acute water shortages. Planted crops will likely wither without rain in 1-2 weeks.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Re: Thailand's drought crisis/Farmers suffer as reservoirs dry up
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2015, 12:17:23 PM »
Farmers suffer as reservoirs dry up

A reservoir in the province of Phetchabun is drying up, as many parts of the country are hit hard by the severe drought.


WITH the North and Northeast suffering from severe drought, rice fields in Roi Et's Suwannaphum district were parched yesterday as water levels were far too low in four local reservoirs for irrigation. Also, farmers outside the irrigation area have already sown seeds for a third crop and are hoping for rain.

Provincial governor Somsak Jangtrakul led a team of officials to inspect the farms and come up with a plan to handle water shortage. The team found that the water level in reservoir Nong Tha Jok was very low compared to previous years. This reservoir can hold up to 1,190 million cubic metres of water and supplies irrigation via four canals to 60,000-rai of rice fields during the dry season. Yesterday, Nong Tha Jok was only 1 per cent full, while levels in other reservoirs were also too low to irrigate farms.

Since rice fields have another 20 days or so before they start withering, Somsak said he hoped it would start raining soon to alleviate the situation. He has called on officials to have pumps and other equipment ready to supply water as well as getting ready for rain-making operations.

Panitan Sunarak, Suwannaphum district chief, said tens of thousand of rai of rice fields were affected and that sowing for a third crop would be a waste, much like the previous two sowings.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Ratchasima agriculture official Somboon Saram said the province's 25 districts had been declared disaster zones and 800,000 residents, especially rice farmers, were badly affected.

In Buri Ram's Satuk district, more than 4,000 rubber trees in Tambon Nikhom have withered away due to the lack of water. So village headman Prasit Traengyodram is calling on the authorities to provide aid to affected rubber growers.

Farmer Ratree Mai-ngam said the damage to her two-year-old rubber trees had seriously affected her family and they were now all in the red.

In his weekly "Returning Happiness to the People" televised address, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed six strategies the government has drawn up to handle water challenges across the country. These strategies include preparing raw water for tap water production in 7,500 rural villages and 700 urban areas nationwide, which will be implemented from now until 2017, while the 9,000 existing water-supply systems would be made more efficient.

To ensure water security in the production sector, the government will build 369 new water-storage systems and excavate 50,000 ponds in farmland and 1,285 artesian wells, as well as help 895 natural water resources to recover, Prayut said.

The government would expand irrigation areas by 2.2 million rai next year, and hopes to increase this by 10 million rai over the next decade or so.

As for his government's three-year water-management-and-flood-control plan, Prayut said the authorities would improve the main water routes and 30 tributaries, covering more than 75 kilometres in total. Some 13 embankments would be raised to prevent soil erosion and flooding.

In terms of water quality, the government will develop 36 wastewater-treatment plants and remove solid waste and weeds from 399 water sources nationwide, he said.

Lastly, the government will reforest a combined area of 25,000 rai and grow vetiver grass on 645,000 rai of land - which would be completed by the end of September - in order to conserve and rehabilitate watershed forest areas and prevent soil erosion.

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Water level in Lam Takhong dam critical

 The Lam Takhong dam in Nakhon Ratchasima province has 57 million cubic meters or 18% of water left for use. The local irrigation department has suggested farmers in the irrigation areas to postpone their cultivation until the rain comes in July.

Director of the 8th Irrigation Office in Nakhon Ratchasima Chitchanok Somprasert said there would likely be no water left in the dam by October if the rain did not come. If the rain fell abundantly in August as forecast by the Meteorological Department, there would be sufficient water in the dam for agriculture, said the director.

The director added that major dams under the Royal Irrigation Department could not provide water for rice fields outside of the irrigation areas. He also suggested the local people to use less water by 20-30%.

If the rain did not come in August, the government would have to limit cultivated areas, the director said.

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Abundant rain unlikely until late July

Thailand would not see abundant rain until the third week of July and the situation would gradually improve from August to October, when the rainy season ends, said the Royal Irrigation Department's director general.

According to Meteorological Department forecasts, there would be about 100 days of rain for the remaining wet season, 7-10% less than normal, Lertviroj Kowattana said.

By Nov 1, the four major dams in the Chao Phraya River basin will have a combined 32–39 billion cubic metres, sufficient for farming and household consumption until the next rainy season, he said.

The irrigation department chief was speaking after a meeting with Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya and related officials to discuss water management in the lower basin of the Chao Phraya River.

Mr Pitipong said he had instructed the Agricultural Extension Department and the Royal Irrigation Department to come up with various solutions that meet the needs of each affected area. Currently, farmers in the Chao Phraya River basin have grown rice on 4 million rai. Of the total area, 850,000 rai are at risk due to water shortages.

Mr Pitipong said authorities would ask affected farmers what kind of assistance they want. He would then propose relief measures to the economic cabinet ministers' meeting on Friday.

He added that farming must be adjusted in accordance with the amount of available water. Irrigation officials would look into the possibility of diverting water resources from rivers outside Thailand like the Mekong and Salween rivers for domestic short-term and long-term use, among other measures.

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Drought crisis worsens in various parts of Thailand

Water levels in reservoirs in several provinces in Thailand have significantly declined. Many farmers have been forced to forgo rice growing while others may have to abandon their fruit orchards.

In Ratchaburi province, a sign has been put up at Huai Sam Nak Mai Teng reservoir to inform people that the irrigation authority can no longer release water to farming areas in Muang and Pak Tho districts, given there is only 9% of water capacity remaining in the reservoir, which is barely enough for household consumption.

Head of Water Transmission and Maintenance Division 1 Jitsak Anusasanan said this could affect as much as 10,000 rai of farmland in the province.

In Nakhon Ratchasrima, rice farmers in Kok Kruad district have been forced to grow other vegetables instead of rice, which requires more water, to supplement their incomes as there is only 1 million cubic meters of water left in Huai Ban Yang reservoir.

Meanwhile, in Bueng Kan, one rambutan orchard owner, Mr. Chainat Petchantuek, said he would not be able to save his rambutan trees unless it began to rain by mid-July.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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Drought tops 10 news in public interest

An opinion survey conducted by Suan Susit Rajabhat University, better known as Suan Dusit Poll, reveals that drought is the number one news currently in public interest, followed by the news on student protests.

The poll was carried out between June 29 - June 4 on 1,468 people throughout the country to know on which issues in the news they pay attention.

The 10 issues currently in the news in their interest are as follows:

The No 1 news for most of the people is about the ongoing drought, which has made considerable impacts on the country's economy as well as on the industrial, agricultural and other sectors. 

The No 2 news is the student protests which have sparked political movements, affectng the images of the government and the country.  The respondents want to know truth behind their activities.

No 3 is news on high prices of goods, which affect their daily life and livelihood.  They want the government, particularly the Commerce Ministry, to solve the problem as soon as possible.

No 4 is news on the draft constitution.  They want the country to be peaceful and properous without quarrels.   They want democracy to return as soon as possible so that the people can enjoy equal rights and liberties.

No 5 is news on the murder of business tycoon Somyos Suthangkura.

No 6 is news on an election.  They believe that with an election democracy will return to the country and they will be able to elect politicians they like to the parliament.

The other news the people are interested in are No 7 Greece's debt situation, No 8 theft and robbery, No 9 the problem between the Siam Commercial Bank and some universities, and No 10 the country's public debt.

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Hit by Drought and Seawater, Bangkok Tap Water May Run Out in a Month

Bangkok's tap water supply may run out in a month, as the country waits for long overdue rains to replenish sources depleted by drought and threatened by seawater creep, the chief of the capital's water authority said.

Thailand is suffering its worst drought in more than a decade. In an effort to maintain water levels in the dams that supply water for agriculture in the provinces as well as taps in the capital Bangkok, the government has asked farmers to refrain from planting rice since last October.

Despite these measures, water levels are critically low in the three key reservoirs that flow into the Chao Phraya river, one of the two main sources of Bangkok's tap water.

The quantity of water collected in the three dams totaled 5 billion cubic meters last November, compared to the normal 8 billion cubic meters, said Thanasak Watanathana, governor of the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority. As of Monday, there was about 660 million cubic meters left, according to the Royal Irrigation Department.

"Right now, there is only enough water in the dams to distribute for about 30 more days - if it doesn't rain," Thanasak told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

Normally, the flow of water from the rains and dams keeps saltwater from the Gulf of Thailand at bay. But during droughts, the saltwater creeps upstream, turning the Chao Phraya brackish.

The seawater can kill crops and threatens the pumping station that siphons off water from the river, about 100 km (60 miles) from the gulf. The waterworks authority produces 5.2 million cubic meters of tap water per day for 2.2 million residential, business and industrial customers, but is not equipped to treat saltwater.

"Some days the saltwater increases, we don't intake the water from the Chao Phraya River. We stop and use the water from the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority stocks of water in canals.

We can stop intake for 3 hours," Thanasak said.

The waterworks authority has asked Bangkok residents to store a reserve of 60 litres of drinking water in the event of a shortage. It has also urged people to use less water, but has had little success on this front in part, said Thanasak, because water customers pay only 8.50 baht ($0.25) per 1,000 liters.

"It's too cheap, so people don't feel the need to conserve.

It has been this price since July 1999. It's probably the big city with the cheapest water in the world," he said.

The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority plans to invest 45 billion baht ($1.3 billion) over the next seven years to increase production and storage. It has also started discussions on a 30-year plan to forecast water demand, identify sources of water and protect against saltwater intrusion, Thanasak said.

Large-scale rainwater collection should be part of that solution, he said, adding that currently when it rains in Bangkok, all the water drains into the sea, wasted.

"We also have floods every year, and we waste that water by letting it out to the sea. So how can we save some of that water to solve the problems during the dry season?" he said.

"They are releasing so much rainwater into the sea. It's more than we have in our entire dam system. Even if we could save 10 percent of it, it would be a lot."

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Rain will save Bangkok from tap-water disruption, waterworks boss says

METROPOLITAN Waterworks Authority governor Thanasak Watanathana yesterday downplayed the possibility of a tap-water shortage in Bangkok due to the severe drought.
"We believe rain will arrive next month," he said, adding that the MEA had enough water to last a month.

The Waterworks Authority produces about 5.2 million cubic metres of tap-water a day for millions of residential, business and industrial customers.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that if the greater Bangkok area really faced a water shortage, artesian wells would be dug. "That's our contingency plan," the PM said.

Thanasak was quoted earlier as saying Bangkok's tap-water supply could be used up in a month, while the country waits for long-overdue rains to replenish sources depleted by drought and threatened by seawater "creep".

"The risk is serious only if there is no rain. But it is forecast that we will get rainfall next month," he stressed yesterday.

The severity of the drought is now clear in various parts of the Kingdom, with water levels hitting record lows in the major Bhumibol and Sirikit dams.

Farmland is also getting parched, not just in the Northeast but also in the Chao Phraya River basin, traditionally the country's rice basket.

With several watercourses running dry, canal banks and land near canals has subsided, while some nearby roads have cracked, leaving large holes in the surface.

Such incidents are happening even though the government has asked farmers to postpone growing rice in order to conserve water.

Prayut yesterday thanked farmers who had cooperated with this request.

He that said without rain, it was impossible for his government to find adequate water supply, but such a problem was not unique to Thailand.

"Several other countries have also had this problem," he pointed out.

The premier said he had already instructed the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to dig 500 artesian wells in affected provinces in order to help people cope with the ongoing drought.

Salinity problem

Asked about the current situation, Thanasak acknowledged yesterday that MEA facilities that use water from the Chao Phraya were facing problems.

Water volume from upstream was not big enough to keep seawater at bay during high tides, which meant the salinity of the river's water became too high for its waterworks, he explained.

"So, we check and take in water [from the river] only during other times of the day," he said.

But the governor said the MEA was still able to draw water from the Mae Klong River near Bangkok.

Thanasak advised all users to be economical with water at this time, and urged industrial users to stock some water in reserve.

He said that if the water shortage became serious, the MEA would advise people to stock up on drinking water.

As the MEA struggles to keep tap-water services in greater Bangkok going, Thanasak said he believed large-scale rainwater collection should be part of the solution.

"We have floods every year, and we waste that water by letting it flow into the sea. So how can we save some of that water to solve problems that arise during the dry season?" he said.

"They are releasing so much rainwater into the sea. It's more than we have in our entire dam system. Even if we could save 10 per cent of it, that would be a lot."

On Monday, an official said that dams crucial for MEA operations might need to reduce their water-discharge volume even further.

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Drought to drag on for six months, say experts

THE DEVASTATING drought currently affecting Thailand could drag on until the middle of next year due to what experts are calling the mother of all El Ninos.
"The effects of El Nino will become stronger and last until next February, which means lower precipitation than what Thailand usually gets from the Pacific Ocean," said Chawalit Chantararat, managing director of Team Group.

El Nino was to blame for the sparse rainfall in the first half of this year's rainy season, he said.

"El Nino is disrupting storm patterns in the Pacific Ocean, so this year we will see fewer storms in the region, which decreases the rainfall that we get. And if this continues, we'll have to bear with the drought until the next rainy season," he said.

Dusadee Sukawat, a meteorology researcher at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, said that due to the severe El Nino event, which will extend into next year, there is a 80-per-cent likelihood of a shortage of rain in Asia and Australia and it will definitely upset the rain pattern in Thailand.

"Even if we get average rain during the last two months of the rainy season in August and September, it will not help fill up the nearly empty dams. This situation will not get better, unless there are some storms heading toward us," he said.

"There is a very high possibility that the drought will linger until the next rainy season - next June - and it will become more severe when the dry season comes," he said.

Maytee Mahayosanata, director of the Meteorological Department's Central Weather Forecasting Division, said the rainfall between July and September is expected to be about normal.

The water-shortage problem was not all about rainfall, he said.

Increasing consumption was one of the major factors behind the drought. For example, in 1997, the precipitation was the same as this year, but then there was no water shortage because what was used was lower than today, he said.

Thongplew Kongjun director of the Irrigation Department's Water Management and Hydrology Office, said the department had started dredging waterways and ponds to store 295 million cubic metres of water within the Chao Phraya River basin. The work was 85 per cent complete. However, to make the best use of the limited water supply, everyone should save water. There will also be a change in planting.

"The paddy fields in the Chao Phraya basin have used seven billion cubic metres of water for five harvest seasons during these last two years. If we reduce crops to two per year, we can save 2.3-billion cubic metres per year," he said. Besides the urgent change of next year's plan for agriculture, people in the city also have to use water wisely to conserve the scarce resource, he said.

"People in Greater Bangkok draw five million cubic metres of water from the tap per day. If every household uses 20 per cent less water, we can save one million cubic metres per day, which can be allocated to 40,000 rai of farmland," he said.

The next rice planting should be reduced to 150,000 rai of land, while farm management should be strictly enforced to avoid a water famine.

The nation
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.