Water shortage looms as current levels well below the average
SEVERE WATER shortages seem inevitable as the level in both the Chao Phraya and Mae Klong river basins were well below average and farmers were instructed not to plant the dry-season rice crop to ensure availability of water for domestic consumption.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry permanent secretary Theerapat Prayunrasiddhi said the ministry had ordered the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) to inform farmers in the Chao Phraya River Basin about the water situation in order to encourage them not to grow the dry-season rice crop.
Theerapat said the water available in the four major dams in the Chao Phraya River Basin – Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwai Noi and Pasak Jolasid had only 3,006 million cubic metres as of yesterday, which was very low.
He said the RID, the Water Consumer Committee, irrigation volunteers and other authorities would meet with farmers to inform them about the water shortage, so that they will avoid the dry-season rice crop especially because of the high risk of failure of the crop due to water shortages. “I would like to inform all farmers and water users in the Chao Phraya River Basin that we do not have enough water for the dry-season crop, because the available water will be needed for domestic consumption. Irrigation Department officers will try to create understanding among water consumers about the water-management plan during the upcoming dry season,” he said.
Despite the warning, it was reported that the dry-season rice crop had already been planted in 500,000 rai (80,000 hectares) of the overall 10.7 million rai of paddy fields in the Chao Phraya River Basin.
While a water shortage was also reported in the Western region, Thanarath Pummakasikorn, the director of Srinagarindra Dam, said that as of yesterday available water in the dam was only 2,294 million cubic metres, while available water in the Vajiralongkorn Dam was only 2,274 million cubic metres.
“According to the data, the water level is lesser now than in previous years. We face a critical water shortage and we can no longer provide water to the agricultural sector,” Thanarath said.
He asked water users in seven provinces of the Mae Klong River Basin to use water wisely and encouraged farmers to cultivate crops that require less water.
Speaking at a forum ‘Road map to the future of water management’ organised by NOW26 channel yesterday, Wiwat Salyakamthorn, Agri-Nature Foundation president, advised that farmers in the irrigation area should adjust their production to suit the changing climate because the 20 per cent farmers in the irrigation area are the ones who suffer the most from drought.
“During a drought, we see that 80 per cent of farmers outside the irrigation area can adjust well to the situation because they are familiar with water shortages and can change their production pattern, unlike those in the irrigation areas who are used to easy access to water,” Wiwat said. He concluded that the farmers needed to help themselves during drought, as the government cannot provide help to everyone. He urged them to learn mixed farming and have their own water reservoir on their land.