Dry factories sound the alarm in EEC

Dry factories sound the alarm in EEC

Water supplies only last until June

Bang Phra Reservoir in Chon Buri is showing signs of severe drought. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Bang Phra Reservoir in Chon Buri is showing signs of severe drought. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The government is warning that water reserves for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) are only sufficient until June unless the state finds additional sources to avoid a shortage.

There are only 35 million cubic metres of water left to feed the industrial sector in Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao, the three provinces in the EEC.

Permanent industry secretary Kobchai Sungsitthisawad said this year's drought is projected as the worst in 10 years and it is taking a toll on manufacturing plants.

The government has sought cooperation from the business sector to reduce their water usage by 10%, but the measure may not be enough if the drought continues through the rainy season.

"The government asked for cooperation from Eastern Water Resources Development and Management Plc [EASTW] to find new water reserves to supply industrial estates in the EEC area," he said.

Industrial estates in Rayong are expected to have demand of 370,000 cu m of water a day, while those in Chon Buri need 100,000 cu m of water per day, said Mr Kobchai.

The Industry Ministry, the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) and EASTW held talks about solutions to the drought yesterday.

IEAT governor Somchint Pilouk said the agency is worried the drought could hamper factory operation in the EEC, which has 6,033 factories.

As a short-term measure, IEAT may seek business cooperation to reduce water usage by 10%, explore additional water reserves and seek water treatment, she said.

IEAT is conducting a feasibility study to invest in a seawater reverse osmosis system to produce fresh water as part of the effort to tackle the water shortage in the long run.

Jirayut Rungsrithong, president and chief executive of EASTW, a supplier of water for industries and drinking water, said the company is working with the government to cope with the shortage of water for factories during the drought.

EASTW has supplied water to Chon Buri and the Eastern Seaboard in Rayong for more than 20 years.

The company is negotiating to buy a reservoir with a capacity to hold 7 million cu m of water.

The deal will be proposed to the company's board for approval on March 19, he said.

"If the board approves the deal, we would be able to supply water to the industrial estates in the EEC this dry season," said Mr Jirayut.

The company also plans to upgrade a pump station in Chachoengsao for it to receive more water from the Bang Pakong River, he said.

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