Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana has also asked farmers on the island to reduce the volume of water being used to irrigate their crops. He even suggested that they delay planting new crops until the dry season has passed.
The “request” was handed down at a meeting at Provincial Hall yesterday (Mar 25), also attended by Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai, Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office Director Somsawat Chaisinsod, and Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Phuket Provincial office of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket).
Governor Phakaphong “urged” government agencies and local administrative organizations to establish measures in preparation for drought prevention and remedies across the island, such as monitoring the water situation throughout the province and improving the provincial drought response plan to be in line with the current situation.
The DDPM-Phuket office was tasked with ensuring that all government offices were informed of the guidelines to follow under the provincial drought response plan, though the Governor did not actually state that the island was currently experiencing drought conditions.
Government officers were “asked” to use their experience and training to attend to the “current situation”, by making sure the appropriate equipment was available in order to provide immediate assistance to people, preparing water-distribution plans in each village, and checking farms in drought risk areas.
Governor Phakaphong gave an update on the current status of the island’s three main public water reservoirs: Bang Wad in Kathu, Bang Neow Dum in Srisoonthorn and Khlong Krata in Chalong.
Bang Neow Dum currently contains 3.25 million cubic meters, or 45% of its capacity, he said, noting that about 3.14mn m3 of that reserve was usable.
Bang Wad currently contains 7.05mn m3 of water, or about 69% of its capacity, the Governor added, of which he said that about 6.78mn m3 was usable.
Klong Kratha reservoir in Chalong currently contains about 1.77mn m3, or some 40% of its capacity, he added, pointing out that 1.68mn m3 of that water was usable.
The three reservoirs gave the island in total some 11.6mn m3 of water to use as water supply, Governor Phakaphong said.
However, he added that that there was 27.84mn m3 of water available from “other water sources”.
“Altogether, the province has 39.44mn m3 of fresh water supply available,” he said.
Governor Phakaphong did not elaborate on whether these water sources were privately owned or government owned, or whether any of those water sources were already dedicated to serving local areas.
Regardless, Governor Phakaphong “urged” officials to make arrangements to be able to use water from these sources in order to prevent water supply shortages across the island.
The Governor also gave particular attention to the volume of water used by farmers on the island.
“Officials must be ready and prepared for provincial drought crisis prevention and solutions to reduce impact of a drought,” he said.
“Go out to survey the effects on farmers, especially farmers facing drought conditions in order to provide assistance if there is a water shortage situation. They will not have enough water for their crops,” he said.
“And every official concerned with this issue must find private water sources to supply the people,” he added.
In his message to farmers, Governor Phakaphong said, “Please save water to get through the drought together. Please use less water for plants or don’t plant new crops at this time.”
The Governor’s call for action yesterday comes follows Patong Municipality already deploying free emergency water for residents (see story here) and the Phuket Waterworks Authority deploying their own water trucks to provide free emergency water supply last Friday (see story here.)
The move by the PWA to roll out free emergency water came just days after the national Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) Governor quietly visited Phuket in person and urged the local PWA office to solve the island’s drought problems and to come up with a plan of how to continue supplying water needed by April 1. (See story here.)
By that time, however, resorts had already start rolling in own water tankers as the Phuket dry spell continued (see story here), while Cherng Talay Municipality started relying on privately owned third-party water sources to provide water to their residents (see story here.)
Koh Kaew Tambon Administrative Organisation (OrBorTor), however, did not wait. The local administration began setting up its own emergency relief water supply stations earlier this month and issued its own water shortage warning despite assurances from water officials that no water-saving measures had been introduced. (See story here.)
Likewise, Cherng Talay OrBorTor, responsible for the Cherng Talay beachfront areas including Bang Tao and Surin, started the ball rolling with their own water-saving restrictions on realising the situation as early as January. (See story here.)
The flurry of action by a many of the key local government authorities on the island – not the provincial authorities – to help stave off a water shortage crisis follows Governor Phakaphong on Feb 8 calling on people to not panic about water shortages and assuring the public that the island had “absolutely enough” water to last the dry season. (See story here.)