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Water shortages nationwide as annual drought begins

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As dry season begins drought expected in at least 30 provinces with water stored in reservoirs at lowest in 15 years. Affected farmers hired to work on state projects.

A tractor drives across the arid river bed of the Yom River, which dried out in January, in Phichit province. (Post Today photo)


Water shortages bite as annual drought sets in

Patsara Jikkham

Severe water shortages are expected in at least 30 provinces this year as the dry season digs in, with parts of eight provinces already declared drought disaster areas, but household water supply should be safe.

The eight provinces where areas have been declared disaster zones are Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Lop Buri, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Sawan, Sukhothai, Sakon Nakhon and Buri Ram, interior deputy permanent secretary for interior Jarik Jakapakaid said after a meeting at Government House.

The drought-hit areas cover 2,091 villages in 30 districts of the eight provinces.

Department of Groundwater Resources director-general Praneet Roibang warned that water shortages  were expected to hit 31 more provinces.

The official did not detail the other provinces. However, the department said earlier that other provinces facing water shortages this year were Kanchanaburi, Chai Nat, Suphan Buri, Prachin Buri, Chanthaburi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Tak, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin, Nong Khai, Roi Et and Si Sa Ket.

Senior officials of various government agencies involved in disaster management held talks at Government House on Thursday to assess the situation and map out measures to fight the water  shortage after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned the country could be facing the most severe drought in 15 years.

The Interior Ministry has already allocated 1.4 billion baht to dredge canals and develop water sources to tackle the shortages, Mr Jarik said.

Wimol Chantharothai, a spokesman for the Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry, also said measures had been put in place to cope with severe drought this year.

The Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry earlier asked  farmers to cooperate and reduce second-crop rice planting in areas where it stopped supplying irrigation water in Nov 1 last year.  This could reduce second-crop rice planting by 50%, to 6.5 million rai from 12.16 million rai, he said.

The government had also hired 32,562 drought-affected farmers to work on state projects and promoted alternatives such as planting other crops and raising fish. It also approved a 65-million-baht fund that farmers could borrow from, he added.

Royal Irrigation Department director-general Lerdviroj Kowattana said the amount of water stored in reservoirs was at the lowest volume in 15 years. X

A national water management plan had been mapped out, and water in reservoirs was being efficiently managed. There was enough water for general use and domestic consumption throughout the year, he said.

The level of water in the Chao Phraya River basin and the Mae Klong River was not worrying. However, it was not sufficient to feed second-rice crop planting areas, he said.

The Royal Irrigation Department has plans to help drought-hit people.  Personnel and equipment could be dispatched to drought-hit areas if requested. The department also stood ready to deliver clean water to 2,631 affected areas, he said.

It had improved 305 groundwater sources to link with the existing tap water system at villages, said Mr Praneet. The would help ensure people have enough water for general  use during the rest of the dry season.

It has also implemented a clean drinking water scheme at 323 schools nationwide and developed water sources in 693 drought-prone areas.

Department of Water Resources deputy chief Boonchong Charasdamrongnit said the agency had instructed 11 regional offices to be on full alert to help affected residents. Water pumps, necessary equipment and personnel were on standby for help.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, 12 out of 32 districts severely hit by drought have been declared emergency disaster zones.

The 12 drought-stricken districts are Ban Luam, Bua Yai, Bua Lai, Sung Noen, Non Daeng, Kham Sakae Saeng, Sida, Huay Thalaeng, Non Sung, Prathai, Dan Khun Thot and Chum Phuang.

A total of 63,311 households in 955 villages of those districts have been badly affected and more than 700,000 rai of agricultural areas damaged due to a severe shortage of water, Sombat Srisak, chief of the Nakhon Ratchasima disaster prevention and mitigation office said.

More than 130 water trucks and 150 water trucks were sent out to affected areas. He urged affected people to seek help from the provincial office via hotline 2784 around the clock.

Chidchanok Somprasit, director of the Irrigation Office 8 in Nakhon Ratchasima, said the five major dams in this northeastern province wee now at only 48% of their holding capacity.



agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ

allocate (verb): to officially give something to someone - จัดสรร, จัดแบ่ง

alternative : another choice - ทางเลือก, ตัวเลือก

approve : to give official permission - อนุมัต

arid : having little or no rain; very dry - แห้ง, แห้งแล้ง, ไม่มีความชื้น

assess (verb): to carefully consider a situation, person, or problem in order to make a judgment - ประเมิณ, ประเมิณสถานการณ์

borrow : to take and use something that belongs to somebody else, and return it to them at a later time - ยืม

canal (noun): a waterway, a long hole in the ground made to send water from one place to another - คลอง

cooperate : to work with other people to achieve a result that is good for everyone involved - ร่วมมือกัน

crop : a plant grown for food, usually on a farm - พืชผล

declare : to announce officially that something is true or happening - ประกาศ ยืนยัน

detail (noun): the small facts or features of something - รายละเอียด, ส่วนเล็กๆ น้อยๆ, ส่วนย่อย

dig in (verb): to wait, or deal with a difficult situation, with great patience - อดทนรอ

director-general : the head of a large organisation, especially a public organisation - อธิบดี

disaster : an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage - ความหายนะ ความล่มจม ความโชคร้าย

dredge : to remove unwanted things from the bottom of a river, canal, lake, etc. using a sucking or other device - ขุดลอก

drought (noun): a long period of time when there is little or no rain - ฝนแล้ง, ภัยแล้ง, ความแห้งแล้ง)

dry season (noun): the dry part of the year when there is no rain - ฤดูแล้ง

efficiently : done in an effective, organised way - อย่างมีประสิทธิภาพ

fund : money provided for something - เงินทุน กองทุน

hire : to pay someone to work for you - จ้าง

household : a group of people, often a family, who live together - ครัวเรือน

Interior Ministry : the Thai ministry with responsibility over the Royal Thai Police, local administrations, internal security, citizenship, disaster management, land management, issuing national identity cards and public works - กระทรวงมหาดไทย

irrigation : the process of bringing water to land through a system of pipes, ditches, etc. in order to make crops grow - ระบบชลประทาน

map out : to plan something in detail - วางแผน

measure : a firm action taken to solve a problem or stop a dangerous unpleasant situation - มาตราการ

national : a citizen of a particular country - ประชาชน

promote : to encourage or support something - สนับสนุน

province : one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด

raise : to take care of children while they are growing up - เลี้ยงดู

reservoir : a natural or artificial lake where water is stored - อ่างเก็บน้ำ

river bed : the bottom of the river, underwater - ท้องคลอง, พื้นใต้น้ำของลำคลอง

severe : very serious and unpleasant - รุนแรง

shortage (noun): when there is not enough of something - การขาดแคลน

situation : all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์

source : the place something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something - แหล่ง, แหล่งกำเนิด

spokesman : a person who speaks on behalf of a group or an organization - โฆษก

store : to put and keep things in a special place for use in the future - เก็บ

supply : to provide somebody/something with something that they need or want, especially in large quantities - จัดหาให้, จัดส่งให้

tackle : to make an organised and determined attempt to deal with a problem - จัดการกับปัญหา

talks (noun): negotiations; when two sides that disagree get together and "talk" to reach some agreement - การเจรจา, การเจรจาต่อรอง

tractor (noun): a farm vehicle - แทรกเตอร์, รถแทรกเตอร์, รถไถ

volume (noun): an amount of something - ปริมาณ

warn : to make someone aware of a possible problem or danger - เตือน


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