Constraints on sustainable water resources management : a case study of the Songkhla Lake Basin, Thailand
Sustainable water management is an essential prerequisite for sustainable development in the world today as water is an important resource. Sustainable water management requires approaching the range of water resources from an integrated perspective which is ecologically sound, economically feasible, and socially acceptable. In order to achieve sustainable water resources management, the principles of and constraints on water resources management need to be identified. The objective of this research project is to examine the constraints on sustainable water resources management in Thailand in the context of the current international literature on water resources management and based on an empirical case study of the Songkhla Lake Basin. On the basis of this analysis, recommendations are made in order to propose solutions and achieve sustainable water resources management in Thailand. In Thailand, rapid rural development, industrialization, tourism development and income growth have raised water demand significantly. Inefficient use of water by various sectors and deteriorating water quality from urban sewage and industrial wastes impose increasingly serious limitations on availability and adequacy of water resources. Significant constraints on water resources management have been identified in this study, based on the review of current literature. These including fragmented management of water resources, unclear policies and strategies for water resource management, underpricing of water and lack of cost recovery, lack of strong laws and regulations, lack of participation of stakeholders, and lack of integrated information. The institutional arrangement and the regulatory system, for example, are both centralized and fragmented. None of organizations have clear responsibility for integrated river basin management and development. The unclear responsibilities, policies and strategies make it difficult to effectively implement management plans. The Songkhla Lake Basin is used as a case study in order to get an in-depth insight into problems of sustainable water resources management. Based on the Berlin Conference framework, which has been used to inform and analyse the constraints in this context, it has been found that constraints on sustainable water resources management of the SLB include the deficiencies of integrated water resources management at a local and regional level and also reflect the problems of water resources management at the national level. For example, constraints on implementation of an integrated water resources management approach in the SLB include fragmented organization, lack of river basin authorities, lack of integrated planning, failure of implementation, and inadequate financial support. The present organisational set-up and distribution of responsibility is very fragmented in relation to issues concerning water resources. The lack of clear division of responsibilities between organizations results in duplication of efforts to achieve the goals of development not only in the SLB context but also in the national level. All constraints above need to be solved as soon as possible to achieve better management particularly following a sustainable approach. Sustainable requirements for water resources management proposed in this research therefore include establishing strong laws and regulations, reforming institutional arrangements, integrated policy and planning initiatives, prescribing and encouraging the participation of stakeholders, integrated information systems, and improving knowledge. In addition, it is necessary that all parties join in the process of improvement, development and formulation of the national water vision work towards a common objective. With new optimism and based on the public sector reforms in Thailand at the end of 2002, the Department of Water Resources and the new Water Resource Act 2002 should be able to overcome problems and obstacles on water resource management in Thailand.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordssustainable water resource management; Songkhla Lake Basin; Thailand; ground water resources; water pollution; industrialization; constraints; sustainable development; surface water resources
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