By The Nation
Somkiat Prajamwong, the Secretary-General of the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR), said after the meeting of the National Directorate of Water Affairs on Thursday (February 20) that the directorate had followed up the process to solve the problem after an order from Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to swifely provide reliefs to drought-hit areas and contain the situation as soon as possible.
“The operation to relieve water shortage during the drought season consists of various projects, such as drilling artesian wells, supplying surface water sources, repairing the water supply system, and laying raw water pipes of pumping stations,” he said.
“We urged related authorities that had received budgets for each project to speed up their work and submit a weekly report”.
He said another issue that the directorate was monitoring involved the operation to prevent or delay the rise in salinity in the Chao Phraya River. The deputy prime minister has ordered the Royal Irrigation Department, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority to increase water diversion from the Mae Klong River basin to the Chao Phraya River from about 30 cubic metres per second to 60 cubic metres per second
“Previously, the Royal Irrigation Department and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority solved the problem by reducing the amount of pumping water and divert more freshwater to dilute brackish water to the standard level for the production of tap water for consumption,” he said.
“However, salinity level may increase during this period due to the high sea level. Also, we have to monitor the salinity level again during March 9-11 , which is part of the plan to deal with the overall situation”.
He said the directorate also considered a water-storage plan during the rainy season this year with two areas (Chao Phraya lowland basin and Thung Bang Rakam) to be confirmed.
“Meanwhile, we have appointed the Royal Irrigation Department, Provincial Waterworks Authority, East Water, and Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand to propose a water management plan as soon as possible, focusing on reducing water usage”
According to the Thai Meteorological Department, Thailand may enter the rainy season about 1-2 weeks later than usual around the end of May, while the amount of rainfall during six months from February to July in the northeastern, eastern and southern regions will be 3-5 per cent below normal level.
Somkiat added that all related authorities under the National Directorate of Water Affairs would accelerate respective projects to avert water shortage, to make sure that people nationwide will have sufficent supply of water for consumption.
“Also, we asked authorities under the directorate to reduce water usage by 5-10 per cent and to report the results to the Deputy Prime Minister,” he added.
“We will hold a meeting on policy to mitigate the drought problem and the water-storage plan. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will chair the meeting at Government House on March 2”.