Provinces ordered to 'dig for water'
PM wants villagers to create more ponds
All 76 provinces across the country have been ordered to begin khut din laek nam (digging for water) as part of urgent state measures to fight a drought which has already parched 18 provinces.
The order was issued yesterday by the Interior Ministry, following an initiative by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who last week encouraged villagers to dig ponds to store water for use in small areas.
The premier admitted it is impossible to ensure water from reservoirs will reach all villages and construction of facilities to supply water to far-flung areas is costly. To solve the problem, he said, local people need to build new water retention facilities.
Gen Prayut also suggested officials find ways to make use of the dug-up soil by, for example, selling it.
"The soil will be managed under practices set by the Water Resources Department," permanent secretary for interior Chatchai Phromloet said yesterday, stressing that khut din laek nam must be strictly carried out according to the law.
The digging will be also done along shallow waterways to increase their capacities which will help villagers deal with water scarcity as well as floods during the rainy season, he said.
Meanwhile, the Royal Irrigation Department is conducting a three-dimensional survey of Klong Phraya Banlue, a canal that plays a key role in helping to reduce salinity levels in the Chao Phraya River.
The 42.5-kilometre canal links the Chao Phraya with the Mae Klong River to the west. Officials need water from the Mae Klong to maintain the quality of raw water flowing into the Samlae tap water production facility which is sited on a stretch of the Chao Phraya in Pathum Thani's Muang district.
The department wants to know the capacity of the canal more precisely in order to make a "quick decision" on how much water from the Mae Klong is needed, its chief Thongplew Kongchan said yesterday.
"If an insufficient amount of water is diverted to the Chao Phraya, tap water will be affected.
"But if too much water is pumped from the Mae Klong, that will be a waste of water which could otherwise be stored for use during the dry season," Mr Thongplew said.