Since Thailand is expected to experience a drought considered to be the worst in 20 years, people are encouraged to conserve water in an economic manner and if possible use a lower amount of water in the Songkran Festival celebrations since this drought could affect four million paddy field rais.
Water Management and Hydrology Office Director Thongplaew Kongchan who is also the Royal Irrigation Department’s spokesman stated that if it fails to rain, water sourced through the irrigation system will only be sufficient until the first part of August.
He encouraged people to conserve water especially during the Songkran festival celebrations. He suggests cutting the days for water playing and reducing water volumes. He added that the celebration of the water festival should not be at par with how it was done in the past. Upholding tradition by splashing water just slightly can be done to ensure that there will be adequate water reserves to make it through the worst part of the drought.
In line with this, Director-general Mr. Chatchai Promlert of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation stated that 46 districts in 12 provinces were already declared as disaster areas because they were deemed emergent drought-stricken and they require immediate assistance.
He added that authorities already dispatched people to inspect the water sources as well as the remaining water reserves to ensure the implementation of efficient water utilization so that there will be no shortage in water needed for consumption.
He enumerated the areas that are being monitored closely including Khon Kaen’s Ubonrat dam where huge fish farms and rice cultivation are present.
Dr. Seri Suprathit, the Secretary-general of the National Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Commission said in a statement that water crisis is the inevitable result of the worst drought Thailand has experienced in 20 years. He added that the 120 day period from March up to June is considered as the most critical since the seasonal rains would arrive late. During this period, no rains can be expected which could cause damage to more than 4 million rai of farmland where rice is grown with total damages of 12 Billion Baht.
This estimate for damages is attributed to the total costs shouldered by farmers per rai of rice farming.
Aside from this, there could also be a need to shut off household access to water on a periodic basis to ensure that everyone would have sufficient water for their needs especially during this critical period.