Chapter 3. Towards better management of water security in Thailand’s Northern Region

The Northern Region of Thailand contains 17 individual provinces each of which presents unique challenges with regard to water management. Expansion of the tourism sector in Chiang Mai is linked to issues of water quality, growth in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Tak presents difficulties related to water allocation, and seasonal variations in precipitation are at the root cause of low water levels in the Mekong River Basin that impact navigation and export opportunities in Chiang Rai.

Tackling these varied water management challenges requires a strong vision and water strategy on the part of central government as well as empowered local actors to deliver against their mandate. This chapter presents policy recommendations that intend to improve organisation, policy coherence and decision making, and take a long-term, risk-based approach to infrastructure development and water security.

    

The Northern Region: Context, challenges and opportunities for water management

The Northern Region of Thailand consists of 17 provinces each of which has its own pressures, challenges and opportunities with regard to water management and long-term water security. Northern Thailand borders Myanmar to the west, Lao PDR to the north, and is bound by the Salween river in the west and the Mekong river in the north and east. The terrain is mountainous and the climate is tropical although the high elevation contributes to cooler winters than the other regions, influencing the types of agricultural produce that can flourish.

The Northern provinces are blessed with considerable natural water resources. Rivers including the Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan flow southwards through the North and merge in Nakhon Sawan province to form the Chao Phraya river. Two large dams, the Sirikit Dam on the Nan river in Uttaradit province and the Bhumibol Dam in Tak province, serve multi-purpose applications including water storage, irrigation supply, hydroelectric power production, flood control, fisheries and saltwater intrusion management (EGAT, 2013[1]).

The Ping river basin is the major watershed in northern Thailand. The Ping river originates at Doi Thuai in the Daen Lao Range located in Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai province. After passing Chiang Mai it flows through the provinces of Lamphun, Tak and Kamphaeng Phet. The Ping river can be divided into upper, middle and lower sections: the upper Ping refers to the northern section around Chiang Mai, the middle Ping to the part flowing through Tak province and the Lower Ping to the southernmost section in Nakhon Sawan province.

The Ping supports a range of economic activities as it flows from north to south. The upper Ping serves a large population and a growing tourism industry around Chiang Mai. The climate and topography in the local region favour fruit tree production including the longan industry in the inter-montane Chiang Mai-Lamphun Valley, and plantings of mango, litchi and a range of other crops, which are often planted in mixed orchards. A substantial citrus industry has also emerged in the far northwest corner of the Ping basin, while strawberry production has gained in importance at higher elevations. In upper basin provinces, notably the mountainous areas of Chiang Mai, there are coffee and tea plantations; these produce both Chinese types of tea and incorporate “miang” tea gardens, which are traditionally planted in natural forests. In contrast, the lower Ping basin provinces have extensive irrigated areas that are used to produce multiple crops of paddy rice (Thomas, 2005[2]).

The North is home to three other river basis. The Kok river basin, located adjacent to the Ping river basin, is the catchment area for the Kok river, which supports significant irrigation activity in Chiang Rai province and functions as a tributary of the Mekong. The Wang river basin is the catchment area for the Wang river, which originates in Chiang Rai province and joins the Ping river in the northern part of Tak province; it supports irrigation activity as well as the transport and trading town of Lampang, the third largest town in northern Thailand. The Yom river basin is the catchment area for the Yom river, which originates in Phayao province and flows through Phrae and Sukhothai provinces, where it represents the main water resource, before joining the Nan river at Nakhon Sawan province.

Water management in the North affects Thailand as a whole. The main rivers in the North merge as they flow southward to form the Chao Phraya, the country’s major river; thus, river basin management upstream has significant downstream impacts in terms of water quantity and water quality. These impacts include water availability for irrigation, water quantity in terms of flood and drought protection, and water quality in terms of pollution effects. It is therefore crucial to ensure that the Northern Region has sufficient resources and capacity to deliver its objectives with regard to long-term water security.

An Action Plan for improving water management

The Action Plan for improving water management in the North of Thailand focuses on adopting a risk management approach to water security. The actions are derived from discussions with over 30 participants in the workshop “Toward Better Management of Water Security”, held in Chiang Mai on 30 November 2018. Three key elements are required to achieve this approach (Figure 3.1) – empowerment of regional actors to deliver their water management responsibilities, robust evidence-based decision making to prioritise regional action, and the selection of appropriate infrastructure solutions that are supported by adequate capital and operation and maintenance (O&M) budgets.

Figure 3.1. Empowerment of local actors, evidence-based decision making and appropriate infrastructure solutions are the pillars of a risk management approach to water security
Figure 3.1. Empowerment of local actors, evidence-based decision making and appropriate infrastructure solutions are the pillars of a risk management approach to water security

Note: This figure refers to the Recommendations and Action Plan presented at the end of this report. “ER 1” stands for the main expected result and bracketed numbers to Action Plan recommendations.

Source: Authors’ own work.

A scorecard in Chapter 4 proposes a series of indicators to monitor implementation and the impact of the actions proposed in the Plan. The indicators are adapted from the OECD Water Governance Indicators and will monitor implementation of the framework and governance following the adoption of a risk management approach to water security (OECD, 2018[3]). Over the longer term, observable benefits are expected in terms of a reduction in the impacts of floods and droughts and the performance of the wastewater sector and associated pollution. Visible benefits are also expected with regard to progress against the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated indicators, as well as in terms of the practical implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM). While these indicators are typically used at the national level, experts consider that the Northern Region of Thailand would also benefit from tracking progress against them (CRED, 2009[4]; FAO, 2016[5]).

Clear vision and organisation empower regional actors to deliver their water management responsibilities

A significant number of central and regional actors are involved in water management in Thailand, leading to concerns over conflicting organisational mandates and a disconnect between central policy making and regional implementation. The move towards practical implementation of IWRM principals is ongoing and requires strengthening.

Since the second volume of the Multi-dimensional Review (OECD, 2019[6]) was completed, Thailand has made progress with regard to its new Water Resource Act, which was announced in the Government Gazette on 28 December 2018, and the relaunch of the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC). Interviews conducted during the preparation of this report indicated a widespread optimism that the newly launched NWRC has provided an opportunity to address previous water management challenges.

The key to addressing these challenges will be clear leadership, a strong vision and the empowerment of local actors to deliver against their mandate. The government must complete four key tasks to achieve these objectives.

The national strategy is structured to empower the development of localised and prioritised regional strategies (Recommendation 1)

A national strategy must set the vision and guiding principles for the water sector but should not be overly prescriptive in terms of content. Regional and local authorities and actors must be empowered to develop local capacity and to use their local knowledge to prioritise and implement action. The national strategy should present the framework and guiding principles to underpin this approach, rather than concerning itself with the details. The national strategy would also set out the fiscal relationships between central and regional administrations; this may include conditionalities and other tools to monitor progress towards delivery of the central vision in the provinces.

To develop and deliver local and regional strategies, local actors must be empowered to perform against their mandates. A key task in this regard will be determining water management priorities at the local and regional level that reflect the unique characteristics of each province in the Northern Region. These priorities would be identified in line with guiding principles set by the national strategy. Local and regional authorities would report on their progress to central authorities, allowing them to measure overall progress with confidence against delivery of the strategy.

Clarity over roles, responsibilities and reporting requirements should be ensured (Recommendation 2)

There is clear concern within Thailand’s water sector regarding the overlap of mandates of various actors. This includes activities such as the issuing of permits, inspections, data collection, and reporting both locally and nationally. To address this issue, Northern water authorities could map sector roles and responsibilities against the requirements of the national strategy, vision and prevailing legislation. This exercise would identify existing overlaps and also gaps with regard to policy, objectives, information and capacity (OECD, 2012[7]). An action plan should then be developed to address the overlaps and close the gaps. The findings of this mapping exercise must be well communicated from the central administration and executed at the local level. In particular, better co-ordination and clarity over roles and responsibilities with regard to disaster preparation and recovery should be revisited and would be expected to include collection and ownership of data and information sharing and reporting.

The mapping exercise should clearly identify owners of strategy development, policy making and long-term planning. To ensure that strategies are robust and that the opportunity for implementation is realistic, budget cycles must be aligned to long-term strategic plans, including infrastructure requirements.

Each entity should be responsible for raising awareness of water security issues across all sectors and society. The entity’s area of influence should include topics such as water use efficiency and disaster preparation and recovery, and would aim to engage society as a whole in tackling water security challenges.

Position the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) as the multi-stakeholder platform for decision making on water issues (Recommendation 3)

There is significant optimism in Thailand regarding the potential impact of the revised structure and launch of the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC). The NWRC will be supported by the new Water Act and has the potential to capitalise on growing public enthusiasm for initiatives to address water management challenges.

To be successful, the Committee should enjoy high-level political support and ownership and must have a clear remit in terms of decision making and strategic direction. Thailand should also ensure that the Committee has the correct representation including from relevant ministries, river basin committees and the wastewater sector.

To harness the current optimism around the Committee, it should commit to meet regularly and to keep complete and transparent records of meetings and action lists. The Committee’s meeting agendas should be bold and ensure that cross-sectorial issues are captured, for example by maintaining the link between water management and economic development.

The Committee must remain a high-level decision-making body and should resist the temptation to be drawn into the minutiae of day-to-day operations. Regional and National Policy Dialogues should be established and used to inform the NWRC through evidence-based analysis and preparation of policy recommendations. These Dialogues would be established at a more technical level and would deliver projects to establish the evidence base to support strategy and policy decisions. They would also be used to provide a platform for consultation on issues ahead of presentation to the high-level committee. For example, a Regional Policy Dialogue for the North could be established to allow detailed discussion on critical water management issues typical to this region.

Box 3.1. National Policy Dialogues as a process

National Policy Dialogues (NPDs) on water are the main operational instrument of the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) component for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

NPDs are policy platforms where stakeholders meet to advance water policy reforms. They are driven by demand from the host countries. A variety of stakeholders participate in the meetings, such as ministries and government agencies and institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations, academia, the business community and parliamentary bodies.

Discussions at NPD meetings are substantiated by robust analytical work and international good practice. For instance, reviews of water pricing benefit from assessments of affordability and competitiveness impacts of alternative pricing scenarios, and development of river basin management plans build on similar experiences in European countries.

The main outcomes are policy packages, such as legislative acts, national strategies, ministerial orders and plans for implementation. These policy packages are then used to support high-level decision making.

Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries benefit from the ongoing EUWI National Policy Dialogues in many ways, not least through better co-operation with EU Member States. Improved co-ordination with donors on water issues helps to increase the cost-effectiveness of Official Development Assistance provided by EU Member States as well as other donors. Furthermore, NPDs provide opportunities to transfer best practices and knowledge from EU Member States and a number of international organisations (notably, the OECD and UNECE who facilitate NPDs) to beneficiary countries.

Similar processes to strengthen multi-level governance and support ambitious policy reforms on water pricing, financing or water allocation regimes have been facilitated by the OECD in Brazil, Jordan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia. National Policy Dialogues consist of iterative and inclusive multi-stakeholder consultation processes that gather information, build consensus on diagnoses and recommendations, and improve buy-in of reforms. They conclude with Action Plans developed to identify concrete options and champions to implement the suggested policy recommendations.

Source: Adapted from (OECD, 2016[8]).

The role and responsibilities of River Basin Management Organisations must be clear and add value (Recommendation 4)

Thailand has invested significant effort in defining river basins and establishing River Basin Management Organisations. Participants at the workshop “Toward Better Management of Water Security” in Chiang Mai on 30 November 2018 considered that these structures are not currently fulfilling their potential, with possible root causes being a lack of human and technical capacity, insufficient funds and lack of authority. The North could benchmark the current role and performance of River Basin Management Organisations against international practice and the strategy and vision for the sector in Thailand.

This benchmarking exercise should aim to determine how River Basin Management Organisations could support the overall management of water resources including their potential roles in stakeholder management, data collection, infrastructure specification, planning and forecasting, and charging for services.

Following this benchmarking exercise, there is an opportunity to provide clear guidance on the roles, mandates and expectations of these organisations. Thailand should take into consideration the fact that some river basin committees may have stronger capacity and add more immediate value to the sector than others. Some organisations might also be of more strategic importance than others and may therefore constitute a greater priority for investment. For example, the Ping River Basin Authority contains Bhumibol Dam, the largest dam in Thailand, which has a major impact on the local economy and water distribution as well as a significant part of Thailand, as the Ping ultimately discharges into the Chao Phraya river. Thailand should consider strengthening the remit of one of these key River Basin Management Organisations to become a pioneer management structure and set the scene for the future development of others.

Robust, evidence-based decision making and policy frameworks prioritise regional action

Making evidence-based decisions is key to the development of a successful water sector. Thailand presently collects data in silos and during the MDCR Volume II and III workshops presented only limited evidence of data being shared between key agencies and analysed to produce the information necessary to support decision making. The launch of a new strategy and greater clarity over roles and responsibilities in the agencies concerned will provide an opportunity to revisit the way in which data are collected and used to update the policy framework. Evidence-based decision making builds trust and represents an opportunity for regional administrations to demonstrate capacity to central government and to secure autonomy.

Data must be centralised and include information on floods, droughts, water supply and demand, and water quality (Recommendation 5)

Collection and analysis of data is costly and time consuming, and it is important for any administration to be able to identify both the minimum and optimum level of data required and the necessary frequency. It must then ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to collect and analyse the data, and store, share and use them as required. The North could become a pioneer with regard to the establishment of regional databases that are centrally accessible to concerned stakeholders, bearing in mind that data may be collected on a river basin level rather than a province level. The data required should, as a minimum, allow for the delivery of objectives as envisaged in the strategy and inform policy development and implementation. Therefore, key water security indicators for floods, droughts, pollution and water quality, and water supply and demand should be included. Furthermore, provincial, regional or basin databases should be accessible and/or feed into a national overview of water management and water security.

The level of risk and priorities should be identified at the national and regional level (Recommendation 6)

To move towards a risk-based approach to water security, administrations should prioritise actions. Local authorities are best placed to calculate and assign the risk and priority based on local knowledge and experience. This prioritisation should be embedded in the guiding principles that form part of the national strategy and policy framework. The provinces in the North could create and maintain a set of provincial and regional priorities for water security action that include, as a minimum, priorities for flood protection, water allocation and pollution control.

A flexible approach to risk management could facilitate the prioritisation exercise. This would be achieved by incorporating regular review processes to reflect the latest thinking and information on acceptable risk.

The regional risk prioritisation exercise would feed into and support a national risk-based prioritisation of action. The National Water Resources Committee, supported by high-quality analysis and data, could confirm levels of acceptable risk that are transparent to all relevant actors. This activity must recognise that acceptable risk is likely to be different for different regions and for different sectors.

A revised list of policy tools should be deployed to achieve national and regional objectives (Recommendation 7)

As a pioneer for the whole of Thailand, the Northern Region should conduct an inventory of the regulatory, economic and information-based tools currently in use. This would be expected to include tools such as flood insurance schemes, water quality standards and flood zone maps. Participants at the workshop “Toward Better Management of Water Security” in Chiang Mai on 30 November 2018 shared concern over the performance and enforcement of existing tools, particularly those that required monitoring to support enforcement, for example, water allocation and water quality regulations.

Once the inventory is created, the performance of policy tools should be assessed against the strategic objectives of the sector. Trade-offs, gaps and poor-performing tools should be identified and marked for reform. The inventory should be benchmarked against the strategic objectives of the sector and the national and international tools available, and then updated to create a new policy framework. The tools should be deployed as required and supported by investment in the necessary human capital and resources to aid implementation (OECD, 2013[9]).

Information must be used to inform decision making, and prioritise compliance and enforcement activities, water allocation and infrastructure needs (Recommendation 8)

A range of regulatory tools already exists in the North and their performance and effectiveness towards achieving water security objectives should be reviewed. This review will have a particular focus on compliance monitoring and enforcement. Frameworks already exist for drilling ground water abstraction wells and pollution control, among others. Where regulatory frameworks are ineffective Northern authorities should establish the root cause, which may lead to a focus on frameworks concerning water allocation, water efficiency, permitting and land use. As part of this review exercise, data and information should be collected and shared to inform decision making and to prioritise actions.

River basins in the North are subject to water quality issues due to discharges of municipal and industrial wastewater and agricultural run-off. These discharges affect local canals and waterways as well as large rivers, as seen in Chiang Mai. The main sources of pollution in each river basin should be identified, including pollution hotspots and areas of high impact, to enable the creation of a risk-based ranking system to prioritise action. In conducting this exercise, it may be prudent to leverage the capacity of existing river basin committees to ensure local knowledge and data are utilised to identify and tackle sources of pollution, rank the corresponding impact and recommend solutions.

Water supply and demand forecasts, prioritisation and allocations are spatially and temporally sensitive issues. It is crucial that these decisions are based on evidence using the latest available information and are transparent in their implementation. These decisions also need to make use of available meteorological data and be dynamic in application. The dynamic nature of decision making regarding water allocation was demonstrated at the Bhumibol Dam on the Ping River, which is required to make important strategic decisions regarding the volumes of water to release at certain times to serve the downstream community. Current and forecast usage of surface water and groundwater should be determined in each catchment to prioritise allocation accordingly.

When reviewing non-compliance against regulatory frameworks, the North can take the opportunity to consider the root causes and possible incentives that drive this behaviour. One approach could be to consider pioneering the deployment of economic instruments and the creation of incentive schemes to drive behaviours that align with the overall strategic objectives of increasing water security. This approach could be based on tools such as the polluter pays principle.

Appropriate infrastructure solutions are selected with adequate capital and O&M budgets allocated

Thailand has a history of investing in capital plant and then not allocating the appropriate operational and maintenance (O&M) budget to enable appropriate operation. This is particularly true in the wastewater sector. A number of provinces in the North have treatment plants that do not or only partially operate. This compounds water security issues through uncontrolled point of source wastewater discharges and diversion of human and financial resources.

Appropriate capital investment programmes should be aligned with financial plans. This imposes practical realities on the delivery of water security priorities, and helps ensure that decision makers consider what types of infrastructure can realistically be built and over what time period. It also drives further prioritisation and allows consideration of alternative infrastructure solutions - for example, ecosystem based solutions.

A robust financial plan should be developed and aligned with delivery of the strategic plan (Recommendation 9)

Due to the high fragmentation of the water sector in Thailand, it is difficult to determine the real costs of managing the sector and delivering services to consumers. Northern provinces should consider addressing this and develop a robust provincial and regional financial plan that considers the real costs of managing the water sector today and in the future. This should then be aligned with the potential revenue streams from economic instruments and funding gaps identified.

Delivery of water security objectives will require capital and operational cost investments. These costs must be included in the financial plan. This exercise will allow prioritisation of the key actions that can realistically be achieved within set time periods. A financial strategy should be developed to support delivery of the water strategy. This exercise should be conducted in consultation with key stakeholders in the North to ensure buy-in and support. Data should be available and accessible to key entities to inform prioritisation and decision making.

Conducting this exercise is an opportunity to review the current and future role of economic instruments. This review could then be used to inform development of the long-term financial plan. Existing economic instruments must be aligned with strategic policy objectives and deliver correct water security incentives, for example, behaviour change to conserve precious resources. This review process is also an opportunity to identify those economic instruments that do not support the overall strategic objectives of the sector and heighten water security vulnerability. This may include energy subsidies that increase the over-pumping of groundwater or agricultural subsidies that promote the growth of water-intensive crops.

There may be an appetite to support the financial plan and strategy through the reform of economic instruments. If this is the case, it is essential to conduct an analysis to determine the ability-to-pay and willingness-to-pay of different sectors for water and wastewater services. A long-term understanding of affordability constraints will support long-term financial planning.

Any emerging proposals regarding future changes in tariffs or charges must be well understood and communicated to the public and water users. It is essential that they have political and public support and understanding to be effective.

Infrastructure solutions should be appropriate for the regional context, aligned with land use planning and embed innovation and long-term climate change thinking (Recommendation 10)

Like many countries, Thailand has a tendency to over-design infrastructure solutions, as has been observed in the Ping River Basin catchment. Overly technical infrastructure solutions incur capital costs and can be difficult to operate and maintain, particularly where human and technical capacity is low. Thailand may wish to consider adherence to the OECD’s Council Recommendation on Water. The Recommendation covers policy advice on issues including water quantity and quality management, the management of water-related risks, governance, and pricing and financing water services and infrastructure. In line with the recommendations of this document, the North should ensure that when prioritising infrastructure solutions to deliver the strategy and water security priorities, solutions that are in line with local conditions in terms of construction and operation and financial affordability should be emphasised. This may include ecosystem-based solutions (OECD, 2016[8]).

When determining infrastructure solutions, local knowledge and experiences from within provinces and river basins will be key. It is important to review and set a clear role for river basin management with regard to this activity. This might include contributing to the determination of priority infrastructure specifications based on lessons learned from previous installations and elsewhere within the basin.

Water and wastewater infrastructure are typically long-life capital investments. With this in mind, any new infrastructure proposals should incorporate long-term climate resilient forecasts and embed long-term climate thinking in the design and construction and operational plans. The use of Environmental Impact Assessments or Strategic Environmental Assessments may be good tools to help embed this practice (OECD, 2019[6]).

The Action Plan: A summary

Expected result: Clear vision and organisation empower regional actors to deliver their water management responsibilities (ER1)

Recommendation

Action

Who

The national strategy is structured to empower the development of localised and prioritised regional strategies (1)

  • Draft a national strategy to set the vision and guiding principles for the water sector and the fiscal relationships between central and regional administrations.

  • Determine water management priorities at the local and regional level in line with the guiding principles of the national strategy.

NESDC NWRC

Local and regional stakeholders

River Basin Management Organisations of the Northern Region including Ping

Clarity over roles, responsibilities and reporting requirements should be ensured (2)

  • Map sector roles and responsibilities against the strategy, vision and prevailing legislation. Document policy gaps, objective gaps, information gaps and capacity gaps and develop an action plan to close them.

  • Ensure better co-ordination and clear roles and responsibilities with regard to disaster preparation and recovery. This would include collection and ownership of data and information sharing.

  • Ensure clear responsibilities for strategy development, policy making and long-term planning. Ensure budget cycles are aligned to long-term plans.

  • Raise awareness of water security issues across all sectors and society. This would include water use efficiency, disaster preparation and recovery.

NWRC and its members

NESDC regional offices

Proposals signed off by the Office of the Prime Minister

Position the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) as the multi-stakeholder platform for decision making on water issues. (3)

  • Ensure that the Committee has high-level political support and ownership and a clear remit in terms of decision making and setting strategic direction.

  • Ensure that the Committee has the correct representation including from relevant ministries, river basin committees and the wastewater sector.

  • Ensure cross-sectorial issues are captured in the committee’s agenda, for example water management and economic development.

  • The Committee should meet regularly and keep complete and transparent records of meetings and action lists.

  • Regional and National Policy Dialogues are to be used to inform the NWRC through evidence-based analysis and preparation of policy recommendations and projects to establish the evidence base to support strategy and policy decisions. They would also provide a platform for consultation on issues ahead of presentation to the high-level committee.

Office of the Prime Minister

NESDC NWRC and its Secretariat

Northern Region Policy Dialogue (following establishment)

The role and responsibilities of River Basin Management Organisations must be clear and add value (4)

  • Benchmark the current role and performance of River Basin Management Organisations against international practice and the vision for the sector.

  • Determine how they can support the overall management of water resources including potential roles in stakeholder management, data collection, infrastructure specification, planning and forecasting, charging and practical implementation of integrated water resources management (IWRM).

  • Provide clear guidance on the roles and mandates of these organisations.

  • Consider that some river basin committees may have stronger capacity and add more immediate value to the sector than others. Consider strengthening the remit of these key river basins to become pioneer committees and set the scene for the future development of others.

NWRC

NESDC River Basin Organisations of the Northern Region

Northern Region Policy Dialogue

Expected result: Robust, evidence-based decision making and policy frameworks prioritise regional action (ER2)

Data must be centralised and include information on floods, droughts, water supply and demand, and water quality (5)

  • Water management data is identified, collected and analysed.

  • Regional and national databases are established and are accessible to stakeholders.

NWRC and its members

NESDC regional offices

Regional offices of the Royal Irrigation Department, Pollution Control Authority, Risk and Disaster Prevention

Regional and Provincial Statistical Office

The level of risk and priorities should be identified at the national and regional level (6)

  • Create and maintain national and regional priorities for flood protection, water allocation and pollution control.

  • Use the National Water Resources Committee, supported by high-quality analysis and data, to confirm levels of acceptable risk that are transparent to all relevant actors. This must recognise that acceptable risk could be different for different regions and for different sectors.

  • Embrace a flexible approach to risk management. Incorporate regular review processes to reflect the latest thinking and information to inform the levels of acceptable risk.

NWRC

Office of the Prime Minister

NESDC Provincial Administrative Organisations for each Northern Province

River Basin Organisations of Northern Region

Northern Region Policy Dialogue (following establishment)

A revised list of policy tools should be deployed to achieve national and regional objectives (7)

  • An inventory of regulatory, economic and information based tools should be created. This might include tools such as flood insurance schemes, water quality standards or flood zone maps.

  • The performance of the tools should be assessed against strategic objectives of the sector with trade-offs, gaps and poor performing tools identified.

  • Update the inventory and deploy tools as required supported by investment in necessary human capital.

NWRC

NESDC, NESDC Regional Offices

Information must be used to inform decision making, prioritise compliance and enforcement activities, water allocation and infrastructure priorities(8)

  • Review existing regulatory frameworks and support with compliance monitoring and enforcement. This may lead to a focus on water allocation, water efficiency, permitting and land use. Collect and share data and information around this matter to inform decision making.

  • Identify sources of pollution in each river basin and prioritise action.

  • Ensure that river basin committees have the capacity and mandate to use local knowledge and data in order to identify and tackle sources of pollution.

  • Determine current and forecast uses of surface water and groundwater in each catchment and prioritise allocation.

  • When tackling non-compliance, consider the deployment of economic instruments and the creation of incentives to drive behaviours that align with overall strategic objectives. This could be based on tools such as the polluter pays principle.

NWRC

NESDC, NESDC Regional Offices

Northern Region Policy Dialogue (following establishment)

River Basin Organisations of Northern Region

Provincial Administrative Organisations for each Northern Province

Governor’s Office for each Northern Province

Expected result: Appropriate infrastructure solutions are selected with adequate capital and O&M budgets allocated (ER3)

A robust financial plan should be developed and aligned with delivery of the strategic plan (9)

  • Develop a robust provincial and regional financial plan that considers the real costs of managing the water sector today and in the future, and align this with potential revenue from economic instruments. Identify funding gaps.

  • Develop a financial strategy and align this to the capital and operational cost requirements to deliver the water strategy, and prioritise actions. Data must be available and accessible to key entities to inform prioritisation and decision making.

  • The current and future role of economic instruments must be assessed to inform the development of the financial plan.

  • Ensure economic instruments are aligned with strategic policy objectives and set correct incentives (e.g. behaviour change). Identify economic instruments that do not support the overall strategic objectives of the sector and increase vulnerability.

  • Ensure any future changes in tariffs are well understood and communicated to the public and water users. They must have political and public support and understanding to be effective.

  • Conduct an analysis to determine the ability-to-pay and willingness-to-pay of different sectors. A long-term understanding of affordability constraints will support long-term financial planning.

NWRC

Office of the Prime Minister

NESDC Support from each Northern Region Provincial Administrative Office in terms of budget requests.

Infrastructure solutions should be appropriate for the regional context, aligned with land use planning and embed innovation and long-term climate change thinking (10)

  • When prioritising infrastructure solutions for delivery of the strategy, consider solutions that are in line with local conditions in terms of construction and operation and financial affordability. This may include ecosystem-based solutions.

  • Review and set a clear role for river basin management. This might include contributing to the determination of priority infrastructure specifications.

  • Long-term climate resilient forecasts must be considered and embedded in the design and construction of infrastructure and carried through to operation. The use of Environmental Impact Assessments or Strategic Environmental Assessments may be a good tool to embed this practice.

  • Consider adherence to the OECD Council Recommendation on Water.

NWRC

Provincial Administrative Organisations for each Northern Province

Governor’s Office for each Northern Province

References

[4] CRED (2009), EM-DAT, https://www.emdat.be/ (accessed on 21 January 2019).

[1] EGAT (2013), Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Nonthaburi, Thailand, http://www.egat.co.th/en/information/power-plants-and-dams?view=article&id=50 (accessed on  January 2019).

[5] FAO (2016), AQUASTAT, http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/data/query/index.html?lang=en (accessed on 21 January 2019).

[6] OECD (2019), Multi-dimensional Review of Thailand (Volume 2): In-depth Analysis and Recommendations, OECD Development Pathways, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264307674-en.

[3] OECD (2018), Implementing the OECD Principles on Water Governance: Indicator Framework and Evolving Practices, OECD Publishing, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264292659-en.

[8] OECD (2016), OECD Council Recommendation on Water, OECD Publishing, http://www.oecd.org/environment/resources/Council-Recommendation-on-water.pdf.

[9] OECD (2013), Water Security for Better Lives, OECD Publishing, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264202405-en.

[7] OECD (2012), Water Governance in OECD Countries: A Multi-level Approach, OECD Publishing, http://www.oecd.org/governance/regional-policy/48885867.pdf.

[2] Thomas, D. (2005), Developing Watershed Management Organizations in Pilot Sub-Basins of the Ping River Basin, The World Bank, http://www.mekonginfo.org/assets/midocs/0002137-inland-waters-developing-watershed-management-organizations-in-pilot-sub-basins-of-the-ping-river-basin.pdf.

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page