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Groundbreaking Revelation! Abandoned Mines to Turn into Life-Saving Reservoirs – Will This Herald a New Era in Thai Water Management?

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Preparing for a future with healthy water resources, Thailand’s northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Lamphun are gearing up for a massive overhaul. Their latest plan involves repurposing a slew of abandoned mines into massive water reservoirs. This initiative is part of a grand water management scheme that will span two decades with more than 7,000 slated projects. The ambitious project is under the careful eyes of Surasri Kidtimonton, the secretary-general of Thailand’s Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR).

These comprehensive water projects aim to hold a significant 951 million cubic meters of water. Not just a random action, but a strategic move designed to secure the supply for approximately 3.8 million rai area, typically hit by drought during the dry season. Furthermore, safeguarding against flooding over 1.7 million rai of land susceptible to the perils of the deluge in the rainy months is also part of this initiative.

Lamphun for example, is gifted with 11 abandoned mines, deemed perfect for transformation into voluminous reservoirs. These vast natural structures are primed to resource neighbouring farmlands. Following rigorous water quality testing, Surasri Kidtimonton has confirmed the water in these mines as safe and of agricultural-grade quality for farming use.

In the Li district of Lamphun, specifically in tambon Dong Dam, lie two substantial abandoned mines. Together, they hold the potential to efficiently water up to 7,482 rai of farmland, requiring a yearly irrigation of around 9.3 million cubic meters. These erstwhile mines will soon bear the brunt of being transformed into potent water reservoirs, kicking off a pilot project in Lamphun. As the initial phase demonstrates success, more such conversions will follow.

To efficiently utilize this water, plans are in place to install a solar-powered water pump. Even now, a 5 million baht pump is already operational at Muang Li Mi Rak, one of the transformed mines, which stands as part of this pilot project.

Another concurrent project focuses on constructing a sluice gate, the Mae Taman Gate, an integral component designed for the water diversion system linked to Mae Kuang Udom Thara Dam (or Mae Kuang Dam) via the Mae Ngat-Mae Kuang water diversion tunnel in Chiang Mai’s Mae Taeng district. With the tunnel near completion, it can help amp up yearly water volume into the dam by 160 million cubic meters. This addition will revolutionize the dam’s capacity, enabling it to service 76,129 rai of farmland, a substantial jump from the existing 17,060 rai.

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