People worried about drought ‘but doing little’

People worried about drought ‘but doing little’

Original article from The Nation Thailand March 20th 2016

Drought Thailand

Slash & burn still being practised in rural Thailand

MOST people are concerned about a shortage of water as a result of the severe drought across the country, but have not helped save water, a new survey has found.


A rice farmer in Suphan Buri province burns dried rice stubble in preparation for the next crop season. Water has been rationed among farmers and gardeners in irrigated areas in the Central Plains for farming, and among municipal-area residents for tap-water production.

Some 63 per cent of respondents said they were worried about the impact of the drought on their everyday life.

However, 54 per cent admitted they still used water in the same manner they always did, according to results of the survey by Bangkok University’s Bangkok Poll.

Some 38 per cent said they used less water, but the remaining 8 per cent said they used more.

The survey was conducted on 1,263 people in all regions of the country.

Some 58 per cent of respondents said they agreed with the government’s measures to manage the consumption of water, while 56 per cent said they would ration water if necessary and 44 per cent would not.

Sixty per cent expect the situation will result in a “rather small impact” on their life while 40 per cent foresee “much impact”.

Meanwhile, the Nakhon Ratchasima Irrigation Office installed two large pumps at the Ban Deu weir to pump the slow-running water into the Lam Takong dam’s five downstream districts – Sikhiu, Sung Noen, Kham Thale Sor, Muang and Chalerm Prakiat – to support 100 stations making tap-water there, Lam Takong irrigation chief Sutthiroj Kongkaew said yesterday.

He said the raw water supply would enable the stations to produce approximately 432,000 cubic metres of tap-water per day as the dam – currently with 73 million cubic metres of usable water or 23 per cent of its capacity – would release up to 432,000 cubic metres a day.

Meanwhile, sand is showing at parts of Takong-connected canals, allowing people to walk across them.

A large number of dead sucker fish – a species known for its hardiness – has been found in the river.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked members of the public, as well as farmers to use water in the most efficient way possible.

Ahead of “World Water Day” on Tuesday, Prayut said conserving water was a global challenge, as everyone has to work together to prevent threats to natural water resources, that could limit supplies.

He urged all people to conserve water and use it more efficiently, saying farmers should postpone off-season cultivation entirely, and switch to drought-tolerant crops.

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Reservoir drought crisis forcing extreme dam measures

Reservoir drought crisis forcing extreme dam measures

THE ROYAL IRRIGATION Department (RID) is considering pumping water for use from the bottom levels of some major dams. as a result of the reservoir drought crisis.

Water levels at 10 reservoirs nationwide are showing signs of crisis and the RID has warned farmers to stop stealthily pumping water out for crops or they “could be talking with national security officers”.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikalya, after a meeting of ministerial executives yesterday, revealed that Ubonrat, Mae Kuang Udom Thara, Huailuang, Bang Phra, Lam Pao, Chulabhorn, Lam Phra Phloeng, Krasiao, Mae-Ngad and Klong Si Yat dams were at very low levels.

The ministry planned additional measures to prepare for emergencies such as pumping “dead water” from dam bottoms, diverting water from other sources and adjusting the water-irrigation plans to ensure enough water for people’s use and consumption.

As the month of May usually marks the beginning of seasonal rice growing, Chatchai said the RID couldn’t provide water for farming. Farmers growing crops outside irrigated areas would need their own water sources or depend on rainwater.

RID chief Suthep Noipairoj said the 10 dams should have enough water for general use and keep up the bio-system until the end of July. He also warned that farmers around the 10 dams wouldn’t be supplied with water and they must not pump it out for farmlands or the RID would ask police and military officers to convince them.

As for the pumping of “dead water” from 10 dams, so far three reservoirs were confirmed to have enough water for pumping use and consumption – Huailuang (with about 3 million cubic metres), Ubonrat (50 million cubic metres) and Bang Phra (5 million cubic metres), Suthep said.

On Tuesday, the four main dams of the Chao Phraya River Basin (Sirikit, Bhumibhol, Pasak Jolasid and Kwai Noi) contained about 16 per cent of capacity and were releasing 18 million cubic metres of water a day, Suthep said.

Agriculture spokesman Surapol Jarupong reported about the Chao Phraya River Basin’s current summer ricegrowing situation. He said 1.968 million rai had grown rice, about 520,000 rai of which were already harvested. The ministry had implemented various measures to aid the drought-affected farmers nationwide, he said. As of February 26, the RID had hired 112,748 farmers for extra jobs with a budget of Bt2 billion. They included 26,327 farmers from the Chao Phraya River basin, 9,280 from Mae Klong River Basin and 77,141 from other river basin areas.

Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department chief Lersak Riewtrakulpaiboon said his office was asking for scholarships for pilot students to solve its pilot shortage. Formulating a plan to boost pilot salaries and job security would be completed in 4-5 months.

Nakhon Sawan and Kanchanaburi rain-making operations were postponed on Tuesday due to lack of humidity, but should begin again on March 8, he added.

In Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district, Department of Rural Roads chief Pisak Jitviriyavasin and a team yesterday inspected the road running along the east side of Khlong 13 canal. It revealed 100-metrelong, three-metre-deep cracks due to drought-triggered, low water levels in the canal. Besides setting up warning signs for motorists, the department would fix the road section to be passable as a short-term solution.

The mid-term solution involved budget allocation for a soil layer survey for safer design and road repair. In the long term, the department would talk with the RID to possibly shift the roads away from irrigation canals, he added.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, 3,000 unemployed people are registering with the provincial employment office per day due to the bad economy. Employment official Suwan Doungta said he was worried that the drought disaster would cause thousands of farmers to become jobless.

The office would contact provinces with high vacancies such as Rayong, Pathum Thani and Chon Buri to offer jobs, he added.

Original story from The Nation Thailand March 3rd 2016

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