B2.2-trillion irrigation projects proposed

B2.2-trillion irrigation projects proposed

Workers reinforce a nine-metre-high concrete floodwall which stretches for 2km along the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Nakhon Sawan. The great floods in 2011 have prompted the need for an integrated water-management policy. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)
Workers reinforce a nine-metre-high concrete floodwall which stretches for 2km along the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Nakhon Sawan. The great floods in 2011 have prompted the need for an integrated water-management policy. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)

The Royal Irrigation Department has come up with two 20-year projects worth 2.2 trillion baht to provide water to farmland in the Northeast and to fill Bhumibol Dam.

The two projects will be submitted to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya for consideration next week. If approved, they will be tabled for cabinet approval, according to Somkiat Prachamwong, director of the department's project management office.

The Bhumibol Dam project involves adding 2 billion square metres of water to the 51-year-old dam in Tak province.

The Mekong, Loei, Chee and Moon project brings an additional 40 billion sq m of water to the Northeast.

Based on estimates, a larger population and urban sprawl will lead water shortages within 10 years.

"Thailand may have abundant rainfall but we lack the ability to store it," he said.

Both projects are considered an emergency and the department was told to take action so they can be implemented in this government.

The two projects require an additional of 28 billion baht from fiscal 2015 and 2016 budgets, of which 30 billion baht each was already set aside to water management. They will bring the total water-management budget in the two fiscal years to 100 billion baht.

Both projects will pump water from the North and the Northeast to be stored in a circulating pipeline system.

In the Mekong, Loei, Chee and Moon project, water in Loei will be pumped for usage in Isan through 10-metre-wide pipelines of 50 kilometres and 80km in length.

The 100-billion-baht first phase, to be implemented in 2015-16, will increase irrigated farmland area in the region by 30 million rai. There will be enough water for industrial use and other services, including tourism.

"Once completed, many jobs will be increased and Isan people will no longer need to seek jobs in large cities," Mr Somkiat said.

In 2014, the average rainfall was 285.23 billion sq m but storage capacity was 102.14 billion compared to demand of 151.75 billion, leaving 49.61 billion unsupplied.

In 2027, the rainfall was projected to be on par with 2014 but demand will shoot up to 156.82 billion sq m compared to the storage capacity of 111.62 billion. 


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