Conservation of Environment for Sustainable Development
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has always seriously considered the need for harmony and mutual support between development and the conservation of natural resources and the environment. Fundamental to achieving this harmony is an understanding of nature and of the relationship between the people and the environment.
King of Water
For decades, His Majesty’s enduring efforts towards water resources conservation and management in Thailand have served not only the immediate needs of the people, but also the needs of future generations by conserving the present environment and seeking to restore areas that have already suffered from misuse. His Majesty’s lifetime has been dedicated to seeking viable ways to prevent and reduce the negative effects of both flood and drought for his people. His Majesty’s involvement in royally initiated projects has typically included in their initial conception the careful consideration of topographical features and economic and social conditions, as well as local customs and traditions. Through such a thoughtful approach, the Royal Development Projects on water resources (accounting for 40 percent of the Royal Initiatives) have focused on key issues of water security, involving management of excess water or floods, management of water shortages, and management of polluted water.
Management of Excess Water or Floods
His Majesty’s initiatives in flood management began with the rehabilitation of forests in watershed areas. An important goal was that the land could absorb more rainwater that would gradually flow into natural waterways. This was followed by various water management methods including:
- Building check dams and weirs;
- Constructing water ducts and excavating canals linking with rivers that faced flood problems in order to drain the water overflowing river banks;
- Improving waterway conditions in order to facilitate water flow or to make the flow more rapid;
- Constructing earthen dykes to reinforce and raise river banks facing the problem of overflowing water;
- Draining water from low areas; and,
- Constructing flood channels and reservoirs.
Management of Water Shortages
His Majesty’s initiatives in addressing drought issues include:
- Making artificial rain by inducing condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere in order to create water particles and stimulate the formation of cloud masses which become increasingly dense and large enough that the particles fall as raindrops; and,
- Developing water sources on the ground surface such as appropriate uses of water, building dams or dykes to enclose gaps between valleys or high hills in order to obstruct water flow along the natural waterway and direct the water to farming areas, clearing out lakes and swamps to increase the size and number of areas that could contain rainwater, building and managing water gates to drain excess water when it is not needed and to store the water for use in the dry season, building ponds especially where there is no natural waterway or where it is not appropriate to build other kinds of water collectors.
Management of Polluted Water
His Majesty’s creative ideas and inventions for wastewater treatment and clean up include:
- Using clean water to dilute polluted water in the waterways to carry away a larger volume of pollutants;
- Using natural water filters such as water hyacinths to absorb dirt, pollutants and toxic substances from polluted water, and also oysters to treat waste water in closed system shrimp farms. His Majesty calls this simple technology the use of vice to defeat vice;
- Using aerating machines to increase the quantity of oxygen in the water and enable bacteria that use oxygen to be more efficient in digesting organic substances in the water. The Chaipattana Aerator (awarded an international patent) is a slow-moving, floating paddle-wheel machine designed so that each of its paddles is punched with holes, thereby letting water pass through the holes and mix with the air as the paddles rotate upwards. What seems like a simple design is very effective in improving water quality.
The above information is an excerpt of His Majesty’s initiatives and approaches towards sustainable development. For more information on the Royal Development Projects, please visit http://www.rdpb.go.th/RDPB .