Drought hits several islands off Ranong and parts of Trang

THE drought has hit the South, with more than 200 families on islands off Ranong facing water scarcity and two |districts in Trang not having enough water to produce tap-water.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department revealed that work has started on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Mae Wong Dam. Opponents, however, say they have already presented a cheaper method of water management.

In Ranong, Banlue Saetan, the mayor of Tambon Pak Nam, said yesterday that the drought had already affected many people living on Chang Island, Lao Island and Payam Island. Water sources on the islands had run dry because there had been no rain at all for three months.

Banlue said people had to buy water from the mainland, while local authorities were providing water trucks for island residents at coastal piers.

Ranong provincial governor Suriyan Kanchanasin said that there were 30 villages in Muang, Kapor and Kraburi districts suffering from drought.

In Trang, Kanya Kantapiti, manager of the Kantang branch of the Provincial Waterworks Authority, said local tap-water distribution for 10,687 people in Kantang and Sikao districts had to be restricted to two times a day because there was not enough water for tap-water production.

Irrigation Department director Suthep Noipairoj said that as drought has now affected every part of the country, work had begun on an EIA study for the Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan - in a bid to tackle the drought/flood problem in Sakae Krang River Basin.

This fresh round of EIA research on the Mae Wong Dam project is the fifth since the idea to build this dam was first presented, back in 1982. After the EIA report is finished, it will be sent to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) for consideration by a specialist committee.

Sasin Chalermlarp, president of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, revealed that there was still no official feedback from the government or Irrigation Department to his suggestion that smaller, integrated water management projects be set up. These, he said, could store up to 200 million cubic metres of water and would be six times cheaper than building the Mae Wong Dam.

"I am now fighting against the dam on official procedures. Our foundation supplied facts on another side of the dam to the ONEP - every time a Mae Wong Dam EIA report was submitted. We also work on alternative ways of managing water instead of building the dam," Sasin said.

However, Irrigation Department boss Suthep argued that this alternative plan would be an ineffective.

"I would like to ask Sasin, how his water management plan can store the water without building a dam. I still |insist that dam building remains important, as nowadays the people in Bangkok enjoy [using] the water from dams," he said.

Source URL: The Nation