High tides could turn Chao Phraya brackish

High tides could turn Chao Phraya brackish

Article from The Nation Newspaper MArch 31st 2016

Chao Phraya ferry

Chao Phraya ferry
Photo credit: Barbara Simmons

MORE THAN 12 million people in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan may have to stock up on water during this dry season, as the high tide and severe drought have rapidly turned the Chao Phraya River brackish.

Narongrit Srisatidnarakul, deputy governor for water transmission and distribution at the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA), said yesterday that from Tuesday until tomorrow, the rising sea will cause high salinity in the Chao Phraya and lead to difficulties in tap water production.

The 12 million water consumers may experience a slowness in the flow of tap water.

“According to our water quality standards for tap water production, we will not pump water if salinity is beyond 0.25 gram per litre.

“And during the high tide these four days, we have to reduce operations at the Sam Lae pumping station,” he said.

“However, we have stored raw water when the salinity in front of the pumping station was low, so water users in Bangkok can be assured that there will not be any shortage,” he said.

The Irrigation Department reported that salinity at the Sam Lae pumping station, which is 96 kilometres from the delta, was 0.32 gram per litre on Tuesday and 0.27 gram yesterday, higher than the MWA’s standard.

The MWA carefully monitors the daily tide forecast from the Hydrographic Department to prepare for changes in saltwater intrusion into the river.

The MWA had a plan to cope with the high salinity situation and is also working closely with the Irrigation Department to relieve the salinity in the river.

“We asked the department to discharge more water to dilute the salinity.

“They’ve already agreed to increase water flow from 81 cubic metres per second to 90,” he said.

Suthep Noipairoj, director-general of the department, confirmed that it had already prepared water to drive back the salt water.

Releasing more fresh water would not reduce the water available for domestic consumption, he said.

“However, on April 8-9, there will be a new high tide, but the salinity level will not be as bad as this high tide,” he said.

Not only are Bangkok people suffering from the drought, but also people in many provinces, who have been struggling with shortage of water.

According to the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA), 18 of its branches nationwide have scaled back water distribution, five branches are seeing saltwater encroachment and three in Nakhon Sawan’s Tha Tako district, Khon Kaen’s Nong Ruea district and Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Thongchai district have had irregular water release.

Suthep said some dams like Ubonrat would dry up soon, but there would still be the dead storage left to use.

“There is nothing to worry about. Even if the available water in Ubonrat Dam runs out, we still have 180 million cubic metres of spare water for the rest of the dry season.

“But I would like to ask everyone to save as much water as possible.”

Chao Phraya

Chao Phraya rubbish
Photo credit: Barbara Simmons

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76 districts nationwide facing water shortages

76 districts nationwide facing water shortages

Water Shortages

Water Shortages

AS MANY as 76 districts in various provinces including Bangkok are facing the risk of water shortages over the next few months, Agriculture Ministry meeting documents revealed yesterday.

Bangkok’s Nong Chok district would lack about 58 million cubic metres of water from February to April.

The districts facing the prospect of water shortages are located in 28 provinces including Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Chaiyaphum and Ubon Ratchathani.

Sombat Meelaksanasom, a senior irrigation official in Chaiyaphum, said more than 60 pump stations under his agency’s supervision in the province did not receive adequate raw water from a river in the area to supply tap-water services anymore.

“A drought crisis is imminent if significant rainfall does not arrive soon,” he said.

While the country’s rainy season usually starts in April, several experts have warned that the wet season may come late this year. Government assistant spokesperson Colonel Taksada Sangkhachan tried to downplay concerns about the drought.

“The country’s current water supply for consumption should last till early August. It’s just that people should help save water,” she said.

She urged farmers to grow crops that use little water and are drought resistant.

Original article from The Nation Thailand 26th February

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Bangkok faces water test as drought looms

Bangkok faces water test as drought looms

Original article from The Nation Thailand 22nd february 2016


THE METROPOLITAN Waterworks Authority (MWA) will test lower-watervolume distribution for 24 consecutive hours in some areas this week as it braces for an imminent drought crisis.

The top of a submerged pagoda reveals itself near the riverside border province of Nong Khai as water level in the Mekong River drops unusually low.

The test will run from 9pm Thursday till 9pm Friday.

“We need to make preparations for any emergency and any water crisis during the 2016 dry season,” the MWA said.

The announcement explained that its waterworks facility in eastern Bangkok might have to cut its production volume in the face of declines in available water.

Affected areas during the upcoming test include communities along two parts of Nonthaburi Road: one stretching from Bang Toranee Canal to Rattanathibet Road, and the other from Rattanathibet to Fai Jia Meng Mill.

Also affected are communities along Bang Kruay – Sai Noi Road, Ban Kluay – Sai Noi Road, Bang Bua Thong – Suphan Buri Road, Kanchanaphisek Road and Highway No 9.

MWA services cover Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi. More than 10 million people live in these areas.

During a recent seminar, prominent water expert Assoc Prof Dr Seree Supharatid said the drought crisis would definitely hit the country. He noted that the volume of water flowing into dams was smallest in 2015-16.

“So, over the next four to five months, everyone needs to save water to help the country wade through this crisis,” he said.

Seree predicted that significant rain would not come to the country till late July or perhaps early August.

MWA governor Thanasak Watanathana is now calling on people to save tap water. To encourage people to lower tap water consumption, MWA has offered to give a discount of Bt100 to Bt200 on charges for users who can reduce water consumption by at least 10 per cent during March to April.

The Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) has also disclosed that 10 of its branches were now facing a high risk of a water shortage.

These branches are in Chachoengsao, Nakhon Ratchasima, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, Pattani, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Nong Bua Lam Phu and Nakhon Sawan.

The PWA is closely monitoring 51 other branches too, due to concerns that they too may be hit by drought.

The threat has already become real in several provinces. In Ratchaburi, tap water production has faltered because of the lack of “raw water”.

In Tak, Tambon Walay Administrative Organisation’s chief executive Lt Chalerm Boonpornwong said the ongoing drought crisis in his province was the worst ever.

“I’d never found water shortage go this serious before. I am now seeking help from the provincial governor,” he said.

In Pathum Thani, the water level in Rahaeng Canal dropped so low yesterday the ancient floating market on the canal looked more like a land-based market.

In Phichit, farmers lamented that lotuses in their farms had withered due to water shortage. “We can’t earn any money,” Boonchuay Sa-nguannam, a local farmer said.

Senior agricultural officials have conceded that the low level of water supplies for the dry season at this point is not good.

“The situation is not quite good. Now we have far less water in our stock than last year,” Thongplew Kongjun, director of the Water Management and Hydrology Office at the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), said at the ministry’s press briefing.

In the Chao Phraya basin, water stored in the four major reservoirs, including the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams, would only be about 1,500 million cubic metres at the end of the dry season in April.

Senior officials at the briefing including Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikalya tried to downplay fears of a possible water shortage, saying daily water distribution still strictly followed plans, but it could only serve two purposes – consumption and ecological preservation.

The RID is now only able to discharge about 18 million cubic metres a day. But the officials said this would last till August, if the plan was strictly adhered to.

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