Mekong River begins drying up amidst severe drought in Thailand

The Mekong River has plunged to low levels amidst a severe drought in Thailand.

Footage captured yesterday (Jan 9) in Mukdahan province in the northeast of the country shows the normally gushing river reduced.

The water level has dropped so much that one car was seen driving along the riverbed to reach fishing boats.

Earlier this week, the Yom River in Pichit and Phitsanulok provinces were parched. The drought has lead to the country's prime minister to ask people to ''shower less''.

With no rainfall expected for months ahead, officials have begun planning a disaster response centre to handle rivers that dried up. In some regions they are attempting to pump water into the rivers.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha this week pleaded with the public to ''reduce tooth-brushing and shower time by one minute''.

He added: ''Please all help save water. Turn off all the taps. Use less water.''

Due to falling river levels and rising sea levels, salt water is now mixing with fresh water in the capital Bangkok and affecting the salinity of tap water. Many residents have reported salty water coming in their kitchen and bathrooms.

Somkiet Prachamwong, secretary-general of the office of national water resources, said they were taking emergency measures to resolve the drought.

He said: "The drought is a bad situation and now we have to handle the brackish water from the drought.

"We have coordinated with government departments to establish a temporary centre that will focus on resolving the drought and its effects."

The government set up a water command centre to coordinate its response and allocated six billion baht (198 million USD) for steps to prevent shortages.

Surapong Sarapa, head of forecasting at the agency said: ''Drought has come earlier this year, and it’s affecting both water for agriculture as well as for drinking. More parts of the country than in the past could be impacted.''

The earliest drought started with the Mekong river that has been running dry since neighbouring Laos started to operate the Xayaburi hydroelectric power dam in mid-2019.

While drying up of the Yom River in the northern region has been caused partly by a lack of rain and also due to farmers tapping into river water to water their crops.

The Yom river is one of the three rivers that merge into the Chao Phraya river that runs all over the Bangkok metropolitan area.

Since the Yom river dried up the Chao Phraya has been running low and the higher saltwater from the Thai gulf has flowed into the river and caused the brackish water.