The Tha Chin River is recognized as one of the most polluted rivers in Thailand. Located in Thailand’s central plain, the Tha Chin is a distributary of the Chao Praya River - Thailand’s largest river system. The Tha Chin River catchment area covers 13,000 square kilometers. The total population in the basin is around 2 million people. The river is used for a wide range of activities including water supply, aquaculture, transportation, and recreation as well as a sink for wastewater discharges. Runoff from agricultural and livestock activities, notably wastewater discharges from intensive agriculture, are significant sources of pollution in the watershed. Based on the 2009 Annual Report on Water Quality Management, prepared by Thailand’s Pollution Control Department (PCD), during the past 10 years overall water quality in Thailand has declined significantly. In December 2010, PCD announced that the overall water quality in major rivers, which includes Chao Phraya, Tha Chin, Bang Pakong and Mae Klong, had deteriorated by 39%. Runoff to the Tha Chin River comes from both urban and industrial areas, and the basin continues to suffer from the heavy use of fertilizers, insecticides and disposal of wastewater. During the past 8 years, local community organizations have been working closely with REO 5 to improve water quality of the Tha Chin River Basin. However, water quality in Tha Chin River Basin has not been significantly improved.
With support from the USAID’s Environmental Cooperation-Asia (ECO-Asia), AECEN facilitated a “twinning” partnership between REO 5, MoNRE and WRC, MfE under the bilateral Environment Arrangement in the context of the New Zealand – Thailand Closer Economic Partnership, signed in 2005. Through technical exchange and targeted training, the partnership enables the transfer of knowledge and expertise to effectively promote community participation in management and rehabilitation of the Tha Chin river basin. A series of twinning activities include scoping mission visit to Tha Chin River Basin, observational program to Waikato region, and a consultation and capacity building workshop.
Based on the twinning partnership, REO 5 will develop a new community participation framework which will include mechanisms and tools to protect and restore water quality in the Tha Chin river basin, including creating mechanisms to foster effective stakeholder involvement, promote the transfer of best practices and experience. REO 5 and the Waikato Regional Council have also established a sustainable partnership to ensure continued cooperation in addressing water quality issues in both basins through technical exchange.