DOI: 10.3390/w16010148 ISSN: 2073-4441

A Half-Century of Human Impact on Nan River Runoff and Sediment Load Supplied to the Chao Phraya River

Matharit Namsai, Butsawan Bidorn, Ruetaitip Mama, Warit Charoenlerkthawin
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry

The construction of large dams in the upper tributary basin of the Chao Phraya River (CPR) has been linked to a significant decrease in sediment load in the CPR system, estimated between 75–85%. This study, utilizing historical and recent river flow and sediment data from 1922 to 2019, examines the impact of three major dams constructed in the Nan River basin (the Sirikit, Naresuan, and Khwae Noi dams) on river runoff and sediment loads in the CPR. The investigation employed the Mann–Kendall (MK) test and the double mass curve (DMC) for analysis. Findings indicate that the Nan River is a major contributor to the CPR, accounting for around 40% of the runoff and 57% of the total sediment load (TSL). The Naresuan diversion dam’s water regulation was found to significantly reduce annual runoff and TSL downstream of the dam. Despite an initial increase in sediment load at the CPR headwater (C.2) post the construction of the Sirikit dam, attributed to expanded irrigation downstream and channel improvements in the lower Nan River, the operation of the three dams eventually led to a 31% reduction in sediment load at C.2 compared to pre-construction levels.

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