Panel green lights new scheme to boost tap water capacity

Panel green lights new scheme to boost tap water capacity

A panel under the National Water Resource Committee has approved the latest proposal to increase tap water capacity in five provinces as part of efforts to better manage water as drought spreads across the country.

Panel chairman and deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday also urged state agencies, which have been granted money under the central budget to solve water scarcity, to complete their projects by June.

“We have to prevent the existing drought from escalating,” Gen Prawit stressed after a meeting.

His panel resolved to give the green light to tap water projects proposed by the Provincial Waterworks Authority which is planning to improve facilities at its six branches in Suphan Buri, Phetchabun, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Suphan Buri is among 22 provinces earlier listed as “drought zones” which require immediate state help.

According to the Provincial Waterworks Authority, the new projects will increase the volume of tap water by more than 475,000 cubic metres per day to serve more than 126,000 householders.

Its plans will be forwarded to the National Water Resource Committee and then the cabinet for a final say.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier told authorities to speed up work to cope with water scarcity during the hot season and prepare to store water in the rainy season later this year.

Various agencies are monitoring the drought closely and carrying out projects to relieve problems among farmers and householders.

One is water diversion from the Thachin River to the Chao Phraya River to solve saltwater intrusion. The work is currently under the supervision of the Royal Irrigation Department and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority.

“They’re following up the result of the diversion,” said Somkiat Prajumwong, secretary-general of the National Water Resource Committee, said yesterday.

The saltwater from the Gulf of Thailand earlier threatened tap water production at Samlae in Pathum Thani’s Muang district which takes raw water from the Chao Phraya River.

Drought decreased water level in the Chao Phraya, prompting officials to divert water from the Thachin River located to the west.

Officials have issued warnings over severe water scarcity since December last year when the volume of water in the country’s four major dams – Bhumibol, Sirikit, Khwae Noi and Pasak Jolasid – was less than half of their combined capacity.

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