Vientiane Times, 5 Sept 2012
A feasibility and design study of a fourth water gate downstream from the Nam Theun II hydropower plant in Khammuan province is underway.
When the new water gate is built, it is expected to irrigate about 3,800 hectares of farmland in Nhommalath and Mahaxay districts
The feasibility study was signed off last week at the provincial Administration Office, by provincial irrigation section head Mr Chomphet Chanephaeng and THB construction company President Mr Tong Homsombath.
Khammuan provincial Governor Mr Khambay Damlath, Irrigation Department Deputy Director Mr Nouanedeng Rajvong and other officials also attended the ceremony.
The feasibility study will cost about 4.6 billion kip, and will be finished by the beginning of next year under the terms of the agreement. It is funded by THB, with the government to repay the company once the project meets the provincial authorities’ standards.
The study will focus on ways to channel water directly from the dam to the rice fields. Direct irrigation saves farmers money because electrical pumps are not needed. The only exceptions are fields that are on higher ground than the irrigation system.
“The province is planning for four gates downstream from the dam to supply water to farmers’ rice fields so they can produce rice in both wet and dry seasons,” Mr Chomphet said.
The four gates are expected to supply water to about 20,000 hectares of rice fields in the Nhommalath and Mahaxay districts of Khammuan province, of which half won’t need pumps.
“We now have the first and fourth gates in their early study stages, and there is already an agreement with a Chinese company to fund the third gate, although it still needs to secure a loan from its government first,” Mr Chomphet said.
The second gate downstream from the Nam Theun II dam won’t be included in the irrigation project, because the cost outweighs the benefit to farmers.
A study plan on the fifth gate – which is part of the irrigation project – is on hold because of a lack of funding.
The irrigation project downstream from the Nam Theun II dam is a model agricultural development project in Laos, and will contribute to the socio-economic development plan to reduce poverty.
Irrigation is the most effective technique for paddy cultivation in the dry season. Therefore, the government is investing heavily in developing the irrigation sector to increase rice production and year-round stable self-sufficiency for locals.