PM tells officials to keep saving water despite easing drought

national July 29, 2015 01:00

By PIYAPORN WONGRUANG
THE NATION

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PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed officials working on solving the water shortage to keep sticking with water-saving measures, even though more water has been flowing into major dams, Deputy Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamne



Sansern said the prime minister and the Cabinet had been informed about the drought having eased, but added that Prayut had instructed officials to continue implementing water-saving measures. 
As of yesterday, the Royal Irrigation Department reported that around 32.1 billion cubic metres of water was stored in the key dams, and that 19 per cent of it was usable.
About 92 million cubic metres has flowed into the dams, while 19 million cubic metres will be discharged daily, the agency said. 
The Water Resources Department yesterday submitted for Cabinet consideration a proposal to save water in public offices, along with resolutions from the National Strategic Water Planning Committee chaired by the prime minister, which met for the first time on July 22.
Prayut instructed officials to cut the volume of water used in public offices from 19 per cent to 10 per cent and to save the difference for other uses, especially for urban inhabitants along the Chao Phraya River.
“We cannot feel relieved yet. We need to help each other save water,” Sansern quoted the PM as saying. 
At the Cabinet meeting, ministers also acknowledged resolutions on four key proposals earlier submitted to the National Water Committee.
They acknowledged the panel’s resolution on the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry’s proposal to adjust the country’s agricultural-production structure as part of the effort to manage water problems in the long term, along with other proposals to relieve the suffering of farmers, including temporary employment and small-scale reservoirs on farms.
The Cabinet was also informed about the committee’s resolution to set up four subcommittees working on seeking water, distributing it, monitoring during the crisis, and information distribution.
Ministers also learned about a resolution to find new members for the watershed committees around the country, replacing those whose terms had expired.
Last, the Cabinet was informed about the National Water Committee’s resolution to study water security, particularly for urban tap water.
In this respect, among the proposals considered by the panel on July 22 was the use of dead storage of two major dams, Bhumibol and Sirikit; the development of a new reservoir to save raw water for urban tap-water production; and water diversion from the Mae Klong River.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Petipong Pungbun Na Ayudhya, who visited farm areas in the Chao Phraya basin on Sunday, said the ministry had managed to divert around 6 million cubic metres out of the set 19 million cubic metres to farmers in the central plain.
Meanwhile, Royal Irrigation Department chief Lertviroj Kowattana yesterday rejected speculation that the agency would ask the PM to enforce Article 44 of the interim constitution over the proposal to construct Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan province. He said the idea had been thrown into the arena by a senior irrigation official – and that it was only his personal opinion.
The department would follow the correct legal steps if it wanted to push for the dam project, he said.

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