Seawater from water taps: Bangkok faces worst drought in 40 years

The Chao Phraya River is so low that it cannot keep tidal seawater out. In a nation where about 11 million people work in agriculture, the drought threatens harvests and the economy. Thailand’s prime minister urges people to save water.


Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bangkok is suffering from its worst drought in 40 years with tap water turning saltier in some parts of the city. The level of Chao Phraya River is in fact so low that it cannot keep tidal seawater out, this according to Thailand’s Meteorological Department.

“Drought has come earlier this year,” said Surapong Sarapa, head of forecasting at the agency. This “is affecting both water for agriculture as well as for drinking,” and “More parts of the country than in the past could be impacted.”

The dry spell represents a threat to crop production and rural needs in a nation where about 11 million people work in agriculture. The problem could also cause a downward economic spiral, the Bank of Ayudhya Pcl noted.

Half of all major reservoirs are operating at less than 50 per cent of capacity, the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) reported.

The latter began releasing more water today from two reservoirs, the Chao Phraya in Chai Nat and the Pasak Jolasid in Lop Buri province, to stop the intrusion of seawater in Bangkok and its vicinity.

Last night, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha urged the population to save water.

The government also set up a command centre to deal with the emergency and allocated six billion baht (US$ 198 million) to prevent interruptions to water supplies.