Dept allays Chao Phraya water fears

Dept allays Chao Phraya water fears

Still enough to drink in river provinces

Dry-season water pumping in the Bangkok area continues to cause massive subsidence, such as along this Pathum Thani canal, where a crack suddenly opened on the roadway and flipped this truck. The driver was uninjured. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)
Dry-season water pumping in the Bangkok area continues to cause massive subsidence, such as along this Pathum Thani canal, where a crack suddenly opened on the roadway and flipped this truck. The driver was uninjured. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

Bangkok and 22 other provinces along the Chao Phraya River will not suffer from a shortage of water for consumption despite the current drought, the Department of Royal Irrigation said Thursday.

Suthep Noipairoj, the deputy chief of the department, came out to allay fears after Bhumibol dam director Nutthavutthi Chamchang announced on Tuesday the dam was drastically cutting the amount of water it was releasing daily for consumption and to supply the ecological system.

He said the dam adopted the measure to ensure there is enough water left in the reservoir to last until August, when rain is normally at its heaviest.

No water was being released for agricultural purposes though farmers are pumping it from rivers and canals into their farmland against government advice.

However, Mr Suthep on Thursday played down the reports saying relief was to hand, with a satisfying amount of rainfall in Chiang Mai over the past couple of days. This is an important source of water flowing to Bhumibol dam in Tak province.

Water flowing into the Sirikit dam in Uttaradit has also increased from three million cubic metres to 7 million cu/m per day, similarly with the Khwae Noi Bamrongdan dam in Phitsanulok where over 400,000 cu/m of water was flowing into the dam daily.

He said rain has also fallen in the drought-stricken Northeast and the Meteorological Department is predicting more rain today for both the Northeast and the North.

More rain is also predicted this month and a monsoon trough is expected to cover the North and Central regions from August to October. However, weather forecasters expect the amount of rainfall will be slightly less than average, he said.

Department figures show there are currently 186 million cu/m of water in Bhumibol dam, 359 million cu/m in Sirikit dam, 63 million cu/m in Khwae Noi Bamrongdan dam and 44 million cu/m in Pasak Chonlasit dam.

In total, there are now only 652 million cu/m left, which is enough for 24 days if the rate of discharge stands at the current 28 million cu/m per day from all four dams.

Meanwhile, the Department of Groundwater Resources said there is enough underground water for consumption in reserve.

There are 10,819 million cu/m per year available for consumption in the lower North and the Central region, and only 869.91 million cu/m of this water is used a year. In case of need, the department can produce 27 million cu/m per day for consumption.

In Bangkok, the department said 1.2 million cu/m per day of groundwater could go into tap water production. Currently, 890,598 cu/m are being used per day.

Due to the problem of land subsidence in the capital, there is a strict regulation on groundwater consumption.

Meanwhile, the water level in the Chao Phraya dam in the Central province of Chai Nat remained critical, said Chao Phraya dam director Ekkasit Sakthanaporn.

He said the water level dropped by another five centimetres Thursday to 13.18 metres above sea level at tambon Bang Luang in Chai Nat's Sapphaya district.

However, the dam continued to release water at 70 cu/m per second to sustain tap water production in the lower central provinces and Bangkok.


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