Irrigation Project Downstream From Nam Theun II Study Underway


Vientiane Times, 8 August 2012

Khammuan province is starting a feasibility and design study of a planned irrigation project at the first water gate downstream from the Nam Theun II Hydropower Plant.

The feasibility and design study project was signed off at the provincial Administration Office, between provincial irrigation section head, Mr Chomphet Chanephaeng, and Phousy Luang Prabang Construction Company President, Mr Phanlakhone, last week.

The provincial Governor, Mr Khambay Damlath, and representatives from the departments of Agriculture and Forestry and Planning and Investment attended the ceremony.

The project will cost about 4.2 billion kip, and should be finished by next April under the terms of the agreement.

The study was funded by the construction company but the government will repay the money once the design stage is complete, Mr Chomphet told the Vientiane Times on Monday.

According to provincial authorities, the irrigation scheme will supply water to about 3,500 hectares of farmland, of which more than 1,000 hectares is unusable in the dry season.

The project will increase the amount of dry season rice grown for both domestic consumption and foreign exports.

The feasibility study will look a t ways to channel water from the dam directly to the rice fields. Direct gravity fed irrigation will save money for local farmers because electrical pumps will not be required. The only exception is fields which are on higher ground than the irrigation system. Farmers nationwide pay about 17 billion kip for electricity each dry season to power irrigation pumps, according to t he Irrigation Department.

“The province is planning to build four water gates downstream from the dam, which will supply water to farmers’ rice fields, so they can produce rice in both the wet and dry seasons,” Mr Chomphet said.

This would supply water to about 20,000 hectares of rice fields in Nhommalath and Mahaxay districts of Khammuan province, of which half won’t require pumps.

“We now have the first gate in the study phase, and there is already an agreement with a Chinese construction company to fund the third gate, although it needs to secure a loan from its government first,” he said.

The second planned gate downstream from the Nam Theun II will not go ahead because the implementation costs outweigh the benefit to local farmers, as it will only supply water to a small area of land.

The fourth and fifth gates have not yet been included in a study plan because of a lack of funding.

Khammuan province has 223 irrigation projects, some gravity fed and some supplied by electric and petrol powered pumps. The government spends tens of billions of kip each year repairing old irrigation pumps.






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