The Government is focusing on developing more water retention areas in its water resource management plan, in order to ease recurrent flood and drought problems.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said that the Government is accelerating its water resource management plan, 2015-2016, which, in the initial stage, seeks to build more large and small areas to store water, in addition to providing sufficient water for consumption and agriculture. He said that relevant agencies had been told to complete the task of creating more water retention areas in time for the coming rainy season. For example, more swamps will be built, and in low-lying areas, lakes might be developed.
The Prime Minister wanted to see more areas across the country that could be used for storing water, but they must not have impacts on the ecological system. He said that local people in various areas might dig small water sources, or artesian wells, for their own water supply to help in cultivation. The Government is seeking ways that will enable them to tackle the recurring flood and drought problems. There are currently about 3,000 subdistricts that face recurrent drought.
The Prime Minister stated that the digging of more water sources for water distribution would help improve the situation. Thailand’s total area covers 123 million acres. Out of this area, more than 50 million acres, accounting for 40 percent, are devoted to agriculture. Around 30 percent of the farmland is now covered by the irrigation system. The Government is striving to expand the irrigation system to cover 40 percent of the farmland. Apart from developing more water sources, agricultural zoning has been suggested as another way to help ease water shortages. Under the agricultural zoning program, farmers would be given advice as to which crops they should produce and how to produce them for a more efficient and productive agriculture sector.
He said that the situation in general is now improving. Even so, the Government is not complacent, as it is concerned about the hardships of farmers, whose problem of insufficient water sources for consumption and agriculture is a matter of great concern. Thailand often faces an annual pattern of flooding following the dry season. In order to tackle this issue, the Government deems it necessary that all water managementrelated projects be integrated, so that flood and drought problems could be tackled more effectively.
Because of the low levels of water in major dams in 2015, the Royal Irrigation Department has prioritized water allocation corresponding to the water volume in various dams. The first priority is placed on allocating water for consumption. The second priority is for maintaining the ecological system during the dry season. The third priority is given to crop cultivation, and the fourth priority to industry.