PM orders water map to combat drought

PM orders water map to combat drought

A few of the 400 macaques at Wat Kai in the drought-affected Bang Pahan district, Ayutthaya, sit around a pond dug up for them by local administration authorities. It is the last reserve for the monkeys. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
A few of the 400 macaques at Wat Kai in the drought-affected Bang Pahan district, Ayutthaya, sit around a pond dug up for them by local administration authorities. It is the last reserve for the monkeys. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

A map of catchment areas nationwide will be drawn as part of long-term measures to battle perennial drought.

Suthep Noipairoj, chief of the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), said Thursday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed the department to conduct a survey of national water sources so the database can be used to aid water management to cope with severe drought.

Water source locations will be pinpointed to compile a database on water volume. Water distribution systems will also be installed in catchment areas where residents are unable to gain access to water.

The survey will be carried out by the RID and the Water Resources Department, he said.

Information on water sources from the government's 10-year-water-management plan will also be incorporated in the survey.

Some measures might be adjusted to improve water distribution systems so they can cover more drought-stricken areas.

Mr Suthep also insisted there will be enough tap water to last until July.

He confirmed the RID will not discharge water for off-season rice farming as there is insufficient water reserves to do so.

Despite government warnings about water shortages, about three million rai of farmland along the Chao Phraya River basin is being used for off-season rice farming. 

Almost two million rai has yet to be harvested and it is feared about 400,000 rai of crops could be damaged due to a lack of water.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, in association with the Interior, Agriculture and Cooperatives, and Culture ministries plans a campaign encouraging people to sprinkle and not throw water during the Songkran festival in order to save water.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, admitted it would be impossible to stop water-throwing but the authorities should appeal to people to splash water "sensibly" rather than let it go to waste. Many tourists visit Thailand during the period because they want to celebrate the festival.

Sanpech Supabowornsthian, president of the Thai Hotels Association's eastern chapter agreed with the campaign but said it would be difficult to stop water-throwing since it is a key element of the festival.


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