Water shortages critical

CHIANG MAI — Farmers may be asked to refrain from growing the second crop after water usage is 80% higher than planned in some areas.

Drought this year is more severe than last year, said caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi at a meeting chaired by the caretaker prime minister today.

While water volume this year is the same, usage has increased, he said, ruling out the belief that the water volume is smaller than usual this year.

"It's more the question of changing usage behaviour. For example, farmers are rushing to grow second and third crops for fear of drought," he said.

This year's water volume is 24 billion cubic metres, the same as in 2013. But so far, 60% has been used, possibly forcing rationing of the rest until April 30.

In the Chao Phraya River plains, 84% of the water has been used.

Some communities plan to build weirs and use groundwater but they are only temporary relief which may cause more problems in the long run, said Mr Plodprasop.

Lertviroj Kowattana, director general of the Royal Irrigation Department, said the problem was not the lack of rainfalls but rather insufficient irrigation capacity, which now serves only 29-30 million rai out of 300 million rai total of farmland.

Besides, while rainfall remains unchanged this year, the two major dams — the Bhumibhol and Sirikit dams — can hold less water.

Worse still, water usage for the second crop is 25% higher than the plan. The Chao Phraya plains are the most affected because water usage has already exceeded the plan for the area by 80%, possibly forcing the reallocation of supply which would affect other zones.

Ms Yingluck, meanwhile, urged preventive measures in the long term. She also asked responsible agencies to coordinate and plan the allocation of the remaining 40% of water so that officials have up-t-date information to advise farmers appropriately.

The farmers should also be advised on what to do if they cannot grow the second or third crop. This is to avoid panic hoarding of water which would aggravating the situation, she said.

Share your thoughts

Back to top

More From Bangkokpost.com