Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14-Step Water Users’ Participatory
Royal Irrigation Department

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Completed in 1942, the Phetchaburi Operation and Maintenance Project, is the main agency in water management and water disaster prevention and mitigation of the Phetchaburi river basin. Responsible for Kaeng Krachan Dam, Huai Mae Prachan Reservoir, Huai Phak Reservoir and Petch Diversion Dam, the project supplied water for ecosystem conservation and domestic consumption, industrial, agricultural and tourism usages of the total 208,583 acre area, of which 154,867 acres is cultivation area (140,654 acres in the wet season and 57,312 acres in the dry season) in 7 districts, 58 sub-districts and 353 villages of 2 provinces and with 46,751 farm families or 104,000 beneficiaries. Average annual agricultural product value was 79 million US $ from wet season rice; 63.1 million US$ from dry season rice; 37.8 million US$ from fish ponds and 37.4 million US$ from shrimp ponds. The project encountered many problems described as follows. Water conflicts happened in all sectors, as urban area and economic growth was increasing. Especially in the dry season when water demand totaled 570 MCM but in some years, the sole source of water at Kaeng Krachan Dam could store water at only 300- 350 MCM. During such season, 12,000 farmers requested for water twice/year at total 335 MCM, domestic demand for urban communities, hotels and tourism spots for 46,750 families or 104,000 people also must be served at total 65 MCM per year. Industrial use for example in Chonlaprathan Cement Co.Ltd., and other construction material manufacturers also required water at total 20 MCM. There was also a need of water for ecosystem conservation of the Petchaburi River at 150 MCM. Therefore, water conflicts were so intense that in 2006 it ended with death. Flood occurred repeatedly in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2013 with the worst of Petchaburi Province in 2003 affected 69 sub-districts, 420 villages, 46,234 families and 179,800 people and damaged 93,560 acre cultivation area, 10,857 animals and 8,303 fish and shrimp ponds and total 116.6 million US$ loss. Moreover, inadequacy of government budget resulted in damaged irrigation structures and limited irrigated areas in spite of farmer’s demand and cropping planning. Area features of alternative high and low land resulted in different cropping pattern and conflict of those who wanted and did not want water. Reduction in government work force from 700 positions in 1975 to 205 positions at present resulted in inadequate O & M staff. Receivers did not satisfy with service rendered from the project since they could not participate in water management. Water was not distributed thoroughly and in accordance with the true demand.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
To solve such many problems, in 2004, the Royal Irrigation Department applied new approach of participatory water management nationwide. Aimed at utmost benefits to all stakeholders with water management in equitable and thorough manner, this kind of management not only lessen conflicts of interests in the area but also pave the way for stakeholders to undertake operation tasks in cooperation with government staff that become diminished and always be reshuffled. Consequently, water users from all levels could involve in project operation at ditch, canal and project level. At ditch level, the project encouraged water users of the same ditch to form a fundamental group called “Water User Group” or WUG. These 721 fundamental WUGs have proved to lessen water conflicts between those who wanted and those who did not want water of the same ditch effectively. At distribution canal level, WUGs under the same canal were enhanced to form a group called “Integrated Water User Group” or IWUG. These WUGs, 25 groups in total, had their own selected administrative committees to formulate rules and regulations and select their members to cooperatively work with Operation Branch of the Project. “Irrigation Service Agreement” which was signed by Phetchaburi O & M Project as“Service Render” and IWUG as “Service Receiver” described in details of “Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14 Step water users’’ Participatory” to be used as guidelines for both parties. General meetings were to be held twice a year: prior to the wet season and prior to the dry season. This level of participatory has helped achieving stakeholders’ acceptance of project water management. At project level, Joint Management Committee for Irrigation or JMC was established consisting of representatives from 1) IWUGs 2) local administrative organizations and government administrative agencies 3) related government agencies and private sector and 4) the Petchaburi Project itself to form a 4-party coordination necessary for “decision making , operation & maintenance and other activities”. General meetings were to be held twice a year: prior to the wet season and prior to the dry season. This would help lessen conflicts among concerned water users in all sectors.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Prior to the improvement, the Project was the sole decision maker on operation & maintenance and flood prevention and mitigation without stakeholders’ participatory. Therefore, problems and social conflicts repeatedly occurred. During 2004–2007, the Project held meetings for the stakeholders to give suggestions and participatory plan of water management for the dry and wet season. 721 WUGs and 25 IWUGs of total 13,300 members were established to cover the whole project area. In 2008 “14-Step Water users’’ Participatory” was introduced, implemented and monitored. Prior to each season, WUGs informed their cropping demand and adjusted their land according to irrigation plan. Agreements on irrigation service were made between WUGs and the Project to cooperatively maintain structures, ditches, and canals. During operation, both parties set regulations, irrigation intervals and informed their members. The issued amount was monitored. Meetings were held to solve all problems for WUGs’ satisfaction. Visits were made to listen to problems and strengthen WUGs. After cultivation, the Project surveyed on produce, value, problems and satisfaction. Meetings were held to analyze their performance to make reports. Trainings were conducted to inform WUGs and RID staff of the benefits which could be monitored by both parties.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The above-mentioned Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14-Step Water Users’ Participatory was developed and successfully acheived through the following strategies : Water Management Efficiency Increase during 2008 to present was achieved by the use of modern technologies in planning, data collecting, monitoring and reduction of staff and implementation procedures. More accurate Data was used, for example, irrigation plan was made by using reservoir operation study. Irrigation structures were calibrated, geographic information system was made to enable accurate irrigation plan and cropping pattern that would be accepted by all water users. Enhancement of water users’ participatory in water management during 2007 to present began with the strengthening of WUGs so that they would understand principles of water management with 14-step water users’ participatory. Those steps divides into steps prior to water distribution (within 45-60 days prior to irrigation season) which includes 1) RID staff designated water use plan for all activities, 2) WUGs informed their cultivation demand, 3) RID staff and WUGs adjusted cultivation area to comply with cropping pattern, 4) meetings were held to formulate irrigation service agreement, 5) committees set regulations and irrigation intervals and informed their members, 6) all parties cooperatively maintained irrigation system; and steps during distribution period (irrigation season at approx. 120-135 days), 7) distribution commencement to the plan, monitoring and problem solving, 8) Visits to farmers’ plots to strengthen their activities, 9) Measurement of allocated water; and steps after distribution season (with 30 days after the season completion), 10) Surveys on cropping performance and other activities , 11) surveys on crop values and problems and satisfaction, 12) meeting to summarize performance, 13) meetings of the committee to evaluate performance, and 14) reports preparation. Agreement on irrigation service was used to abide all parties to cooperatively work together. Lessen conflicts and used as guidelines for sustainable water management. During 2004 to present, relevant government agencies and private sectors were comprehensively invited to work in IWUGs as members of their committees and advisors. They cooperatively did water management and helped solving the problems at both on-farm and project level as well as providing information and budget for problem solving. Network for information dissemination was set during 2007 to present. Information were disseminated in 4-party meetings, in 25 IWUGs’ meetings and in monthly irrigation volunteers’ meetings and through social media like Websites ands Facebook. Publications were sent to relevant agencies and stakeholders.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Groups of people involved in “Irrigation Operation and Maintenance with 14-Step Water Users’ Participatory” are Water Users About 22,000 users in distribution and drainage canals of Petchaburi O&M Project and Petchaburi River united as 25 IWUGs to participate and became the key component of this 14-step participatory management. 4-party meeting was held at least once/month to formulate water use regulations, solve problem of the area, and cooperatively operate and maintenance irrigation system. Thus conflicts were lessened. Representatives from Other Sectors Representatives from other sectors, for example, waterworks, industry, tourism, conservative groups attended in the general meetings at least twice a year to help allocate water properly for each season. Concerned Government Agencies There were representatives from concerned provincial offices, for example, Agriculture, Fishery, Livestock and Cooperatives to give support in their field to water users. Local Administrative Organizations and Local Administrative Agencies Chief Executive of Sub-district Administrative Organizations and their members, District Chiefs, Village Headmen were those who allocated maintenance budget for WUGs, be members of WUGs, participate in distribution and solve problems together. RID Staff As the main agency in distributing water for all sectors, RID staff helped coordinate with all sectors in implementing all activities, supply and collect information for this and next year administration by attending participatory meeting with IWUGs and Operation Committee as well holding meetings for all sectors and visiting farmers together with other government agencies.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
6.1 Financial Resource Each year, the Petchaburi Operation and Maintenance Project was allocated with 333,333 US $ for O & M implementation, which was insufficient for effectively solving distribution problems. Priorities for budget use were made; most were for short-term problem solutions, for example, weed eradication, silt dredge, and canal repair for increasing conveyance efficiency and reducing water loss. Parts of the work were done by contracting those 25 IWUGs to undertake repairing works as proposed by the groups so that problems could be solved as required by the groups. For long-term maintenance, for example, improvement of a distribution canal of the whole length, construction of regulators, were considered for implementation case by case. Moreover, the Petchaburi O&M Project was allocated 33,333 US $ annually for welfare of their staff e.g. overtime payment, allowance, and other supporting resources like vehicles, lawn mowers, tools, radio communication and costs for strengthening the work of WUGs and IWUGs by meetings and other activities for better their understanding. 6.2 Technical Resource The Petchaburi O & M Project applied techniques for motivating participatory from stakeholders, for example, call for meeting of all stakeholders and encourage them to make decisions and undertake activities for long-term problem solving, monitor each step they took and made written performance reports to be used as evidence for both parties. The Project also used modern technologies in planning, collecting, storing, monitoring data as well as reducing steps and staff in data processing. More accurate data was used, for example, irrigation plan was made by using reservoir operation study. Irrigation structures were calibrated, geographic information system was made to enable accurate irrigation plan and cropping pattern that would be accepted by all water users. Information was disseminated through water users’ network in the meetings of 4-party water distribution committee, meetings of 25 IWUGs and monthly meetings of irrigation volunteers. Publication was distributed to concerned government agencies and stakeholders and information was disseminated through social media like websites and facebook. 6.3 Personnel Resource Being responsible for vast area, the Petchaburi O & M Project in year 1975 was provided with 700 staff. However, due reduction in government work force , at present there are only 205 project staff and only 65 of which are O & M staff (5 zonemen and 60 canal and structure attendants) who are the key power in solving problems and coordinating with local WUGs and IWUGs.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Tangible outputs of the Initiative are as follows: 1. Higher Efficiency of Water Management. The Project used modern technologies in planning, collecting, storing, monitoring data as well as reducing steps and staff in data processing. More accurate data was used, for example, irrigation plan was made by using reservoir operation study. Irrigation structures were calibrated.. Geographic information system was made to enable accurate irrigation plan and cropping pattern that would be accepted by all water users. In 2013, after the Project had determined water demand of all sectors at 448.72 MCM in the dry season and cultivation of rice at 39,525.69 acres, due to increasing demand of dry-season rice, the project still was able to cope with their demand and solved all conflicts immediately. Therefore, dry-season rice which was actually cultivated in 68,086 acres and resulted in 137,800 ton yield and 55 million US$ value, used water at only 15.85 MCM more( 3.53 %higher than planned) and 28,561 acre area more ( 41.95 % higher ) but yielded 57,800 ton more or 23 million US$ in value that means higher rate of return. 2. Reduction of Conflicts among Farmers. Participatory management and service agreement has helped lessened conflicts and enhanced sustainability of water management. 3. Achievement of Comprehensive Water Management between Government and Private Sectors. All concerned agencies take part as committees and advisors to cooperatively manage water and solve water problems of their zones and project as well as providing knowledge and budget for solving relevant problems so that water management would be of higher efficiency than the past. 4. Establishment of Information Network. Information was disseminated through water users’ network in the meetings of 4-party water distribution committee, meetings of 25 IWUGs and monthly meetings of irrigation volunteers. Publication was distributed to concerned government agencies and stakeholders and information was disseminated through social media like websites and Facebook. All sectors get correct and in-time information.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
To monitor progress and evaluate the activities of “Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14-Step Water Users’ Participatory”, the Project used monitoring forms of RID in each following step: area determination by water resources (October), crop cultivation demand (October-November), adjustment of distribution plan to serve farmers’ demand (October-November), meetings of water management committee for making agreements (December), formulation of distribution regulations and inform to members (January), distribution system maintenance (January-June), distribution as planned (February-June), visits for strengthening WUGs (February-June), measurement of allocated water s(February-June), informing of cultivated area and WUGs’ activities (February-June), surveys on crop value and problems & satisfaction of WUGs’s members (June), meetings for summarizing performance (June), meetings of water management committee for evaluating performance (July), and preparation of O & M reports (July). Those forms included details of implementation, responsible persons, and durations which were standardized, to be used as evidence and for the following year improvement.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
First was the farmers’ demand of cultivation area higher than planned. Especially in the dry season when water was supplied solely from Kaeng Krachan Reservoir, dry-season rice area must be reduced to only 30% of the wet-season. However, actual cultivation area was larger than planned, resulting in water conflicts and damaged cultivation. Therefore, the Project in cooperation with relevant WUGs did the control of water use to avoid effects to the others and water saving measure such as reusing of water pumped from drainage canals was applied. Low conveyance efficiency (about 60 %) occurred due to damaged irrigation system and resulted in high water loss, higher distribution than demanded and difficulties to distribute thoroughly and in equity manner. The Project in cooperation with WUGs repaired the system by maintenance budget provided from the RID or other agencies or by adjusting area and distribution plan or by formulating rotation system of water distribution. Conflicts in local communities occurred due to changes of local leaders. New leaders did not accept agreements or support them. The Project, thus, had to work more comprehensively to assure all sectors’ understanding and acceptance of participatory water management. Lack of personnel in required fields resulted in the assignment of lower qualified staff to work instead. So the project provided them with consecutive trainings and on-the-job trainings. Problems, obstacles and solutions were analyzed and concluded as lessons learnt to be used as guidelines for sustainable water management. As there was work burden in data collection and report preparation, the Project designed uncomplicated forms and used IT system to collect and analyze data. Therefore, those tasks could be implemented with high accuracy, less time consuming, in line with data of other government agencies and be useful for the following year water management plan.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Five sectors that got key benefits from this initiative are: 1) water user groups in the project area with total 22,000 members, 721 WUGs and 25 IWUGs who received water management service and problems’ solutions; 2) Waterworks and other water users for domestic consumption e.g. Petchaburi waterworks, Tha Yang Municipality Waterworks, Cha-am Municipality Waterworks, Hua Hin Municipality Waterworks, Sub-district Administrative Organization Waterworks, Regent Phattana Co.Ltd., the Dusit Thani Hotel, Plam Hill Co.Ltd., and Chukamon Resort Co.Ltd.; 3) Water users in industrial sector, e.g. Chonlaprathan Cement Co.Ltd., Construction Material Manufacturers, 4) Water users in tourism sector, e.g. Kaeng Krachan-Petchaburi River Tourism Club, Cha-am-Hua Hin Tourism; 5) Ecosystem conservative group, e.g. Petchaburi Municipality, and water users downstream of Petch Dam. Representatives of all sectors have attended general meetings twice a year so that the meeting outcome would be sufficient for all year round management and all sectors would be able to undertake their own tasks. This initiative resulted in both long-term and short-term benefits. First of all, water users from all sectors received water sufficiently, thoroughly and in volume proper for their areas and activities. Water users believed in irrigation plan and cropping pattern. Agricultural investment was less damaged. Water use was done under regulations accepted by both service renders and receivers. Water conflicts among water users and irrigation staff also decreased; the conflicts which in the past regularly had occurred and expanded till there had been conflicts between communities and protesters lined up to administrative agencies requesting for their rights e.g. conflicts between villages, conflicts between rice farmers and fish farmers and conflicts between industrial factories and farmers. At present, with participatory water management, all problems were raised in the meetings for solutions and resulted in agreements and conflict decrease. Economic benefits were stabled and increased as reflected in 2012 agricultural produce, in which dry-season rice of 152,200 tones valued 55.8 million US$ and wet-season rice of 260,330 tons valued 105 million US$. Moreover, the participatory management induced more sense of water saving among water users through some measures e.g. water use regulations, water distribution through rotation system and reuse of water from drainage canals. In the 2012 dry season, even though the actual area of rice cultivation was 70,816 acres (higher than the planned 51,383 acres), water was less used with conveyance efficiency at 77.05 % (higher than the planned 25.00 %) and agricultural product value was higher than expected by 15.31 million US$ . More Irrigation water fee could be collected for use in irrigation system improvement and office supply procurement in 2012 at 913,201 million US$. Survey on water users’ satisfaction done in April 2013 revealed that of 500 members of IWUGs, their satisfaction rate was 91.29 % higher than 80 % of 2011 and 85 % of 2012.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
In 2004, the Royal Irrigation Department applied new approach of participatory water management nationwide and thus the initiative on “Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14-steps Water Users’ Participatory” was one of the key elements. At present, many irrigation project adopted this initiative and used as guidelines in their management. So they reported their performance to the Royal Irrigation Department for improvement and for implementation. All implementation procedures which was set from the Department’s experiences in water management were adjusted to enable stakeholder’s participatory with exact details of duties and responsibilities and regulations mutually agreed and accepted by both parties of RID staff and water user groups. Seeing the benefits of it performance, all parties automatically performed their duties, which then became norm of the society. Increase in economic return resulted in people’s secure of their occupation, better relationships between communities and peace to all concerned parties. Local traditional and cultural beliefs were cherished and environmental conservation was increasingly undertaken. “Irrigation Operation and Maintenance Process with 14-Step Water Users’ Participatory” can also be applied by other agencies whose service involves large numbers of stakeholders or sectors; under this concept, such agency, water user groups and stakeholders can cooperatively adjust procedures or processes to meet their exact targets or purposes. All concerned parties must be invited to participate in each step and be assigned with specific duties and responsibilities. Regulations shall be cooperatively formulated so that they will be accepted by all. There shall also be tangible monitoring and evaluation measures for sustainability and improvement of the procedure.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The main target of this process is to enable all stakeholders and sectors to participate in every step of government service so that government staff can learn the people’s requirement, problems, obstacles and solutions as suggested from those involved. Implementation can be made or problems can be solved at their root cause. By this mean, sense of unity and team work will be formed. Since under this kind of participatory, people from different fields of work, education and behavior have to come to work together, many problems arise. Even in the government sector itself, there is the problem of lack of personnel or staff with proper competence. Therefore to drive and standardize all steps is a very difficult task. All parties involved shall be trained. Benefits derived in one area shall be extended to nearby areas or to the whole project area. Through this process, service rendering of a government agency is standardized and accepted by people. Management of a project is done with transparent steps that can be monitored and benefit the people most. Therefore, people will have better attitude toward such government agency and be willing to give cooperation, participation and feel the sense of belongings. Comprehensive works starts from the root and expand to all sectors of the country and to its utmost sustainability.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Royal Irrigation Department
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Dr. Wachiraporn Kumnerdpet
Title:   Section Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   + (66) 2 669 3775 / + (66) 2 669 1460
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Office of Public Participatory Promotion, 811 Sam-sen Road
Postal Code:   10300
City:   Dusit
State/Province:   Bangkok

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