Water stress index and its implication for agricultural land-use policy in Thailand

  • S. H. Gheewala
  • T. Silalertruksa
  • P. Nilsalab
  • N. Lecksiwilai
  • W. Sawaengsak
  • R. Mungkung
  • J. Ganasut
Original Paper

Abstract

Land-use change and expansion for agriculture significantly affect freshwater resource availability which in turn results in different levels of water scarcity and competition among users in different areas and time. The study uses the water stress index as an indicator for determining the potential impact of water use considering water deprivation potential. Considering the case of Thailand, the temporal aspects of water withdrawal and availability have been analyzed and characterized as the monthly water stress index for the 25 watersheds in the country. Wide variations of monthly water stress index are obtained; extreme water stress is observed in the areas of the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin watersheds (the central region) during the dry season because of the large areas cultivating second rice (rice planted in dry season). The target of the Thai government on agricultural land-use change and zoning toward the conversion of about 0.37 M·ha of the upland paddy fields with low productivity to sugarcane was evaluated showing serious implications on the monthly water stress index of the relevant watersheds and the water scarcity footprint potentials of rice and sugarcane production. The results reveal that proper policy can help reduce the amount of water requirement for agriculture in June, July, August and September by about 60–220 M·m3, which in turn results in the decrease in monthly water stress index values. Nevertheless, appropriate measures of water resource management for agriculture still need to be designed to avoid water competition as well as protect the ecosystem.

Keywords

Freshwater resource Water stress index Land-use change Rice Sugarcane Thailand 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was financially supported by the Thailand Research Fund in the years 2013–2015 as a research project (Grant No. RDG5620052).

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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Joint Graduate School of Energy and EnvironmentKing Mongkut’s University of Technology ThonburiBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Center of Excellence on Energy Technology and EnvironmentPERDOBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Center of Excellence on Environmental Strategy for Green Business, Department of Environmental Technology and Management, Faculty of EnvironmentKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Water Resources Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand

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