The government plans to divert water from rivers which form natural boundaries with Thailand’s neighbours into major dams in a long-term measure to battle drought.
Suphot Tovichakchaikul, chief of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), said Monday that aside from the country’s local sources, water from the Moei River bordering Myanmar could possibly be diverted into the Bhumibol dam in the western province of Tak while water from the Mekong River could be piped to other major dams in the Northeast region.
However, neighbouring countries will need to be informed in advance of any water diversion.
Mr Suphot was speaking after a meeting of the National Water Board chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House, also on Monday. He said the water diversion project approved in principleat the meeting will be long-term in nature as it first requires an environmental impact assessment, a process which should take about a year to complete.
at the meeting will be long-term in nature as it first requires an environmental impact assessment, a process which should take about a year to complete.
According to Mr Suphot, the Bhumibol dam in Tak can take in more than four billion cubic metres of water as the drought has caused water levels to plunge.
In the future, if and when the diversion from the Mekong River is given the go-ahead, water will be drawn into sources in the Huai Luang River basin located in Udon Thani and Nong Khai
Mr Suphot said construction of sluice gates to regulate water from the Mekong River is finished although pumping water into catchments areas in the Huai Luang River basin will take about a year.
The gates will also help keep out excess water from the Mekong River during the rainy season. About 300,000 rai of farmland in irrigated areas is expected to benefit from the water diversion.
However, bilateral agreements with Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia which share the Mekong River will need to be incorporated in the project, Mr Suphot said.