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Thailand

Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture

Institutions

In total there are 31 ministerial departments under ten ministries, one independent agency and six national committees that are involved in water resources development. They are responsible for water policy, irrigation, domestic and/or industrial water supply, fisheries, flood alleviation, hydropower generation, navigation or water quality.

The National Water Resources Committee (NWRC), under the Office of the Prime Minister, is responsible for setting a policy to develop water resources throughout the country.

In general, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is responsible for policy planning while the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) is responsible for implementation.

The National Economic and Social Development Board is responsible for economic planning.

The Department of Groundwater Resources, under the MONRE, monitors groundwater resources, while surface water monitoring is mainly carried out by the Department of Water Resources, and the Royal Irrigation Department, which has its own network.

Many departments or agencies are involved in water supply for domestic or industrial purposes. The main one is the Metropolitan (or Provincial, outside Bangkok) Waterworks Authority. Wastewater treatment and water quality are mainly the responsibility of the Ministry of National Resource and Environment.

Large dams are operated either by RID or by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), while small dams have been developed by the Land Development Department or the Department of Water Resources.

The Harbour Department is in charge of protecting inland waterways, and of issuing licenses for navigation.

Irrigation is managed by the RID for public schemes, or by the Department of Water Resources. The RID is the supervising agency for private irrigation.

Water management

There are four levels of water user organization in the irrigation areas:

  • Water User Group (WUG): These are the smallest groups, responsible for one tertiary irrigation canal. In 2004, there are 14 930 WUG with 358 846 farmer members.
  • Integrated Water Users Group (IWUG): This is integration of many WUG to cover one level up of irrigation canals, the secondary canals. In 2004, there are 410 IWUG with 234 203 farmer members.
  • Water Users Association (WUA): This is a legally recognized IWUG. In 2004, there are 40 WUA with 17 575 farmer members. IWUG is not profit oriented.
  • Water Users Cooperative (WUC): This is the cooperative form of a WUA. In 2004, there are 83 WUC with 53 158 farmer members. WUC is business-oriented.

Participatory irrigation management (PIM) and cost sharing in water management are encouraged in all the RID irrigation areas but not widespread.

Policies and legislation

By 2025, Thailand is projected to have sufficient water of good quality for all users as a result of its efficient management, organization and a legal system that ensures the equitable and sustainable use of its water resources with due consideration to the quality of life and participation of all stakeholders.

Thailand’s nine-point National Water Policy and Vision, as set forth by RID, details how this will be implemented:

  • Accelerate promulgation of a Draft Water Act as the framework for national water management by reviewing the draft and implementing all necessary steps to make it effective, including reviewing existing laws and regulations.
  • Create water management organizations both at national and river basin level with supportive legislation. The national organization is responsible for formulating national policies, monitoring and coordinating activities to fulfill the policies. The river basin organizations are responsible for preparing water management plans through a participatory approach.
  • Emphasize suitable and equitable water allocation for all water use sectors and fulfill basic water requirements in agriculture and domestic uses, to be achieved by establishing efficient and sustainable individual river basin water use priorities under clear water allocation criteria, incorporating beneficiary cost-sharing based on the ability to pay and the level of services used.
  • Formulate clear directions for raw water provision and development compatible with basin potentials and demand, ensuring suitable quality while conserving natural resources and maintaining the environment.
  • Provide and develop raw water sources for farmers extensively and equitably in response to water demand for sustainable agriculture and domestic uses, similar to deliveries of other basic governmental infrastructure services.

Most laws related to water management are outdated. All existing laws are focused on individual aspect of water management and none on a holistic view (IWRM). There is no law specifying water rights. Currently there is a draft Water Law that specifies water rights, river basin organizations and national apex body for water management. This draft passed the cabinet in June 2007, and is waiting for approval from the parliament. Earlier versions of this law have been at this stage before but failed to pass.

     
   
   
             

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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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