Our proposal (that is, by doctoral candidate Alin Chintraruck and myself) was submitted to a new book project on Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia and it has been accepted. So we will be working over the next few months on a chapter for which this is the abstract:
Water resource management in Thailand is characterized by competition for scarce resources between industry, the tourist sector and public citizens, in a country in which environmental degradation and erratic climatic patterns are making the controlled flow of water increasingly difficult. Additional issues include the overlapping responsibilities and mandates of various government agencies, as well as the problems of pricing a common good under increasing market competition. The difficulties were made evident during the floods of 2011, in which more than 700 people were killed (and hundreds more in neighbouring countries), when the interests of industrial estate users were set against private citizens and the interests of neighbouring provinces set against those of Bangkok. An additional, complicating factor involves the connection between some aspects of water management with extra-judicial institutions which it is illegal to criticize. The incoming government survived the crisis this episode provoked and is currently seeking better means of enhancing water management and coordinating the different elements of that management across geographical and jurisdictional lines. However, the management model that is emerging from this process is fraught with pragmatic compromise and postponement or avoidance of power relations issues. This situation is relevant to other Southeast Asian nations both in terms of geographical and climatic pressures on water resources in rapidly industrializing and urbanizing states and also in terms of competing interests in conditions of constrained democracy. Where integrated management systems have been introduced quite successfully, as in Singapore, this has resulted from both transparency at the governmental level and unity of purpose in all relevant institutions. This chapter analyses Thailand’s current and prospective water management regimes in a comparative perspective and highlights what has and, more commonly, what has not worked well in previous attempts to deal with the issues involved.