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Irrigation chief eases fears of water shortage

Jul 28. 2019
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By The Nation

There is no risk of Thailand suffering severe water shortage in 40 days as widely feared, Royal Irrigation Department (RID) chief Thongplew Kongchan affirmed, despite the low levels of usable water at the Chao Phraya River basin's four major dams.

He instructed irrigation projects to strictly adhere to the RID guidelines and urged local administrators and the public to help save water.

Thongplew on Saturday said that Bhumibol Dam in Tak province had 682 million cubic metres or 4 per cent of capacity, Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit province contained 391 million cubic metres or 4 per cent, Kwae Noi Dam in Phitsanulok province had 80 million cubic metres or 8 per cent and Pa Sak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri province had 35 million cubic metres or 4 per cent. This meant a combined 1.18 billion cubic metres of water was available for use from the four dams, which released a combined 42.60 million cubic metres per day and received a combined 4.35 million cubic metres per day, he said.

Despite the alarming figures, Thongplew urged the public not to panic and assured the country would not suffer a critical water shortage in 40 days as many feared. “There is still some rainfall and water pouring into the dams on a daily basis. Compared to the situation in 2015 when dams could release only 18 million cubic metres of water a day for consumption, this year's situation is still better,” he said. He urged people to save water as a precaution against a crisis that could rise as weather was unpredictable.

The RID has instructed all irrigation projects to strictly adhere to the RID guidelines and coordinate with local administrative organisations to save and maximise the use of water. He said all irrigation projects must ensure a thorough supply and conserve the 6.21 million rai of rice fields with already-planted paddies and have the local administrative organisations' 339 water pump stations to take turns in pumping water as per the RID schedule. Farmers on the Chao Phraya River basin's upland have been asked to postpone their rice planting until the rainfall becomes steady so as to prevent damage to crop, he said. Farmers in Phitsanulok province's Bang Rakham Model area had already harvested rice in April and hence the Yom-Nan irrigation project would cease supplying water for farming from July 31, as planned.

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