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Agency dismisses fear of drought, predict rains from late May

Mar 07. 2019
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By THE NATION

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THE DRY SEASON, which is threatening many provinces with a shortage of water for consumption, is expected to only last until the third week of May.

Therefore, the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) believes there will be enough water in all areas provided its water-management plans are implemented strictly. 

“Weather forecasts show that the rainy season will start between May 20 and 25,” ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong said yesterday, dismissing widespread claims that Thailand will be hit with a long-drawn-out drought this year.

He added that his agency has worked with relevant authorities to analyse weather conditions, and is drawing up plans in line with rainfall predictions. 

Somkiat added that areas facing the risk of water shortage have been identified as part of the plan. 

“We have informed the Provincial Waterworks Authority [PWA] of the risk, and it has taken steps to ensure there is adequate supply of water and that taps don’t run dry,” he added. 

Without preparations, the provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lamphu, Buri Ram, Maha Sarakham, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Surat Thani, Phang Nga and Phuket could face water shortage. But the PWA has taken steps to take water from nearby provinces. 

Somkiat said his agency has also informed municipalities that are at risk of water shortage. “We have also identified water sources that are within a 50-kilometre radius that can be used if local water sources run dry.” 

As for irrigation, he said some 151,552 rai (24,248 hectares) of farms outside irrigated areas might be affected by drought. The farms facing a shortage are located in the provinces of Sukhothai, Uttaradit, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Nong Bua Lamphu, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Si Sa Ket and Suphan Buri.

The ONWR has also found that the number of double-crop paddy fields in irrigated areas exceeded the quota by 1.21-million rai. 

“The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry believes it should be able to provide water for all these fields,” Somkiat said, adding that the ONWR will nudge relevant authorities to strictly control the use of water for agriculture, especially in the Chao Phraya River Basin. 

“We will communicate with farmers too, as we will need to strictly implement water-management plans to prevent shortage during the ongoing dry season,” he said. 

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