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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evolving water policy in the Bangkok metropolitan region Kraisoraphong, Keokam

Abstract

The study focuses on the problems of water allocation in Thailand where the alternative of introducing a comprehensive water-pricing system has become a controversial issue. Governed by the regime of open access, the Thai water allocation system has failed to cope with newly surfacing demands and necessities. The system has yet to overcome old perceptions and habits. The case studied is the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR), the area of greatest social-economic changes and most acute water allocation conflicts in Thailand. Proposals to shift water allocation decisions from the government to the market by way of water-pricing have not been well received by the government as a result of political uncertainty. While the government is in favour of increased centralization to improve its administrative control, the academic circles are calling for institutional reforms which would include specifications of property rights to water. As a contribution to the area of Thai water management, this study examines water resource issues in relation to the water demand profile of the BMR, the issue of property rights and water allocation, the historical development within Thai political economy, the trends that shape possible changes within the policy arena and how these changes can positively affect water allocation systems in Thailand in terms of pricing. The study is based on reviews of relevant theory, interviews and analysis of both published and unpublished data on the BMR. Water issues in the BMR revolve around problems of water shortage, groundwater over-extraction, and deteriorating water quality. The demand profile indicates that the existing water allocation system is not able to sufficiently accommodate the BMR's water demand, neither in quantity nor in spatial distribution. The state's centralized administrative control has failed to provide an efficient and equitable system for water allocation. Solutions currently being proposed follow one of three alternatives: increase state centralization to correct administrative errors, conserve and revive traditional systems, or introduce market-based tools such as a water-pricing. The study suggests that there needs to be a shift in government policy to develop a mechanism whereby water allocation and management recognize the significance of local community inputs as represented by interest groups.

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