Thais asked to shower less as drought worsens

A photo taken on Oct 31, 2019, shows a depleted Mekong River in Pak Chom district in the north-east Thai province of Loei.
A photo taken on Oct 31, 2019, shows a depleted Mekong River in Pak Chom district in the north-east Thai province of Loei.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday (Jan 7) urged people to turn off their taps and shower less to cope with a drought afflicting northern and central Thailand.

Last week, Bangkok's water authority said the capital's tap water was becoming saline as seawater pushed up the depleted Chao Phraya River, a source of much of central Thailand's water.

The Cabinet agreed on Tuesday to spend three billion baht (S$134 million) on boreholes and pipes to extract groundwater to relieve a drought that is expected to worsen in the next few months, a government spokesman told reporters.

Thailand's dry season started in November and usually lasts through April, although this year authorities say it could go on through June. A drought has been declared in 14 provinces in the central, northern and north-eastern farming regions.

"Please all help save water. Turn off all the taps. Use less water," Mr Prayut said. "Reduce tooth-brushing and shower time by one minute."

With reservoir levels low, the government has also asked farmers in some provinces near the Chao Phraya River basin not to grow off-season rice.