Improved water operation resilience in Thailand
The advent of climate change has been a game changer for all.
The anomalies in weather patterns across the globe have brought about severe conditions where areas are now exposed to either extreme flooding or extended periods of drought. In recent years, Thailand has had its fair share of the former, and with the worst occurrence aff ecting its economy tremendously. And sooner or later, this will also impact the operations of diff erent sectors, including water.
PWA of Thailand is the agency responsible for providing water services across the country except in Bangkok Metropolitan and Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan Provinces. It supplies water to urban areas through 233 waterworks. Yet despite its extensive coverage area, the sustainability of the agency’s operations is being threatened. Extended periods of drought and increased runoff in several service areas have resulted in the continuous degradation of the quality of its raw water sources as well as dwindling availability of supply.
While it has made significant strides in its operations and service provision over the years through various internal initiatives, PWA deemed it necessary to seek technical assistance to enhance its resiliency in handling the negative impacts of climate change. Specific areas of concern include water quality improvement, water losses management, and energy efficiency. As a result, PWA participated in the WOPs program.
The mentor, Water Corporation (WaterCorp), is an established water utility serving over two million people across Western Australia. It has vast experience in operating under water-stressed conditions and has instituted various innovations in water loss and water quality management and initiatives focused on energy efficiency.
Aside from WaterCorp, PWA also benefitted from the support extended by the United States Agency for International Development through WaterLinks. WaterLinks is a non-profit organization based in Manila, the Philippines, which actively promotes and facilitates water operator partnerships between water and sanitation service providers to build institutional capacities and improve operations.
PWA and WaterCorp developed a joint work plan, which covered remote consultations, technology demonstration visits, and on-the-job or classroom training sessions. The work plan focused on improving sustainability of operations even under extreme weather events. Over a 15-month period, the twinning arrangement covered:
Training sessions on water quality improvement and energy efficiency focused on improving Chiang Rai waterworks;
Training sessions on water quality improvement and water loss reduction focused on Udon Thani waterworks;
Building climate change resiliency measures responsive to the concerns arising from the Chiang Rai and Udon Thani waterworks;
Implementation of new protocols on water quality improvement and management, including installation and operation of polymer (Chiang Rai) and chemical dosing units (Udon Thani); and
Meter replacement program in Udon Thani and energy efficiency assessment in Chiang Rai.
The engagement between the two partners was seen as highly productive. During the final visit of WaterCorp to PWA in January 2015, the former highlighted various opportunities for future collaboration and other areas for improvement. These included the procurement of state-of-the art software to facilitate continuous monitoring of operations, which can benefit a service coverage as extensive as PWA, with its many assets and facilities. Other areas to look into are water quality data collection and plans for replication or scaling-up of activities to benefit other waterworks under the ambit of PWA.