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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           3   August  2011

Conserving water in Thailand

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Thailand has a unique water situation. Areas of the country that are flooded, six months later are drought-stricken. The answer could lie in conserving water.

Experts cite a poor ability to contain rainwater as a major reason for the perennially inadequate water supply during the dry season.

They urge management to be improved to make the most of water that some say is more valuable than gold.

"Thailand has never lacked a water supply - the problem is we don't know how to manage it efficiently," said Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation.

Thailand has too much water sometimes, such as during the present rainy season, which causes floods in provinces such as Sakhon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom.

"But then suddenly after the flood water subsides comes drought," said Dr. Sumet, adding that weather patterns have grown much more severe and less predictable nowadays.

In the Northeast, data show that only 2.5 percent of rainwater is collected, meaning only 2.5 raindrops out of every 100 are saved for later use compared with an average of eight raindrops nationwide and seven in the North.

To address this issue, the foundation is collaborating with Siam City Cement Plc (SCCC) on the Green Water Tank project aimed at building large water tanks in rural areas nationwide.

Thailand's second-largest cement maker plans 84 tanks made from soil cement blocks each year starting this year to mark the celebration of His Majesty the King's 84th birthday in December.

Philippe Arto, SCCC's managing director, said 252 tanks would be built over the course of three years.

"After several years of assessing the needs of communities in remote areas, SCCC realises that people are still in need of water storage containers for use during the dry season," he said.

The Green Water Tank project was initiated to complement the Insee (Eagle) Check Dam project, which has seen 4,100 dams built nationwide to date since being launched five years ago.

"Solutions to environmental problems must be found seriously and continuously," said Mr Arto.

He said with the participation of stakeholders, SCCC has also developed other eco-friendly activities as part of its Green Heart campaign.

These include the Green School and Green Heart Bank projects.

For the Green Water Tank project, SCCC will donate 300 tonnes of cement and 3 million baht each year.

The Chaipattana Foundation will recommend specific locations for the tanks based on its extensive knowledge of natural water sources.

Each tank will measure 3 metres in diameter and 3.5 metres in height and contain 20,000 litres or 20 cubic metres.

As well, the skill of building soil cement blocks will be transferred by experts to locals in the communities for purposes of job creation, said Mr. Arto.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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