Blog by Richard Friend (ISET-International) and Pakamas Thinphanga (Thailand Environment Institute)
Udon Thani, in the North East of Thailand, has many water needs, but management and planning processes are not yet able to account for the complexity of such a rapidly growing city. This becomes all the more problematic as the city faces some of the emerging risks that arise from climate change.
As the city has expanded, demand for water has increased, while precipitation has become more variable and less predictable. The city is now facing problems with water availability and quality. The city is dependent on one main water source – the Huay Luang reservoir – that was built over 40 years ago and designed to meet the largely rural irrigation needs of small-scale rice farmers. The pressures on the Huay Luang have intensified, with the expansion of irrigated rice and other crops across the province, and increasing need to meet domestic water demands of the growing urban population. The reservoir has a capacity of 135 million cubic meters, but agriculture requires 138 cubic metres per year, and the combined demand from urban areas and industry is already at 22 million cubic metres per year. This demand is only set to rise again, as urban populations increase further, and as industry becomes more established in the area.