The Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) is currently assessing the potential of oxbow lakes to be used for flood and drought management in the Yom river basin.
Oxbow lakes are cast-off meander loops of a river channel. Thailand has many of these, 23 of them alone located in the Yom river basin which is frequently affected by floods and droughts. By directing the water into the old river arms, the peak of the water volume could be cut when there is a risk of flooding. Moreover, the oxbow lakes might contribute to groundwater recharge and store water that can be tapped in the dry season.
The Thai-German Climate Programme – Water (TGCP-Water), a collaboration between the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) and GIZ, is in the process of conducting a feasibility study to assess the most suitable options of ecosystem services for the Yom river basin. The study focuses on ecosystem-based adaptation solutions since these are generally low-cost measures that provide multiple benefits, not only for the environment and biodiversity but also for the livelihoods of local communities such as fishing or food production. Furthermore, such solutions can make a valuable contribution to the long-term climate resilience of the people in the river basin.
To kick off the assessment, a field survey by the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR), the appointed River Basin Committee (RBC) Secretariat and TGCP-Water was undertaken on 7th February 2020 in Nong Mai, one of the 23 oxbow lakes in the Yom river basin
Nong Mai, which is usually referred to by people in the area as Yom-Lhong (“Oxbow Lake”), is a large retention area located in Baan Tung Kaw sub-district, Phrae Province, that has become disconnected from the Yom due to past changes in the water flow. While the water body is 60 metres wide and 2.8 kilometres long, the peninsula it forms in the middle area is around 100 Rai or 160,000 square metres and is used for growing crops and vegetable gardens by the local community.
A feasibility study will also open the floor for public participation in a discussion of ideas that are in accordance with community interests and local needs within the year 2020. The results will be used to replicate the approach in other oxbow lakes in the 22 river basins in Thailand.
Acting Sub Lt. Praphat Dejharn, Yom River Basin Management and Coordination Director, said: “Stakeholder dialogue and public participation will need to be strongly encouraged in both the decision-making and planning processes so that the community accepts the proposed measures and, at the same time, to create a sense of ownership. In the long run, it is the community who will benefit from better and more climate-resilient water management in the river basin.”
The Thai-German Climate Programme- Water (TGCP-Water) implemented by GIZ with the support from the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is working towards enhanced climate-resilient water resources management in Thailand, focusing on Ecosystem-based Adaptation and guided by the 20-Year Master Plan on Water Resources Management. The lead partner of TGCP-Water is the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR), together with other key partners, namely the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Department of Public Works & Town and Country Planning (DPT), and the Royal Irrigation Department (RID).