Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon yesterday ordered state agencies to speed up developing groundwater resources and water gates to prevent saltwater intrusion amid predictions of severe drought.
"The drought crises in the coming months will be similar to those of last year. We will continue with plans to ensure there are sufficient water resources for household consumption and agriculture," Gen Prawit said after the meeting of a subcommittee on water resource management yesterday.
The most pressing concern, he said, is that state agencies must work faster to dig underground water wells in drought zones to feed orchards and plants which need less water to grow.
Somkiat Prachamwong, secretary-general of the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), said that his agency predicts that the worst-hit areas will be the northern part of the country, while the southern region would be the least affected.
However, the biggest concern is over the economically-important but highly water-intensive rice farming industry, especially areas which harvests three times a year and rely heavily on state irrigation to maintain that level of production.
As of yesterday, the amount of water held in large and medium-sized state-built reservoirs and dams was recorded at 43 billion cubic metres, which is roughly half the level they need to be at to meet demand in the country over the coming months.