From: Associated Press
Published March 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Thailand Seeking Water from Neighbors to Ease Drought

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand is negotiating with neighboring countries to divert water from rivers flowing through their territory to help ease severe seasonal droughts, officials said Monday.


The current drought has caused millions of dollars (euros) of damage to Thai crops, prompting authorities to urge Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to accept the plan, which has been talked about for decades but never implemented.


Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters that his government is initiating talks with the three countries on sharing water from the Mekong and Salween rivers, but warned that the project would be a long term one.


He said artificial rainmaking would be used to deal with the current water shortage.


Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob told reporters that the foreign ministry will negotiate with China about releasing water from the massive dams it has built on upstream portions of the Mekong.


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In addition to the seasonal droughts brought on by irregular and insufficient rains, some environmentalists blame the Chinese dams for the lowering of water levels in the Mekong, which has a knock-on effect, as its tributaries see their water levels drop or in some cases dry up entirely.


Water from rivers flowing through Myanmar and Laos would be diverted to the massive Bhumibol Dam in the northern Thai province of Tak. Water from Cambodia's rivers would go to a proposed hydropower dam that would also be used for irrigation projects.


Source: Associated Press


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