A couple of minutes in Nga Moe Yeik

Photo Capture the Dignified Sunshine

You may think that I have met with Nga Moe Yeik, the king of crocodiles and companion of Prince 'Min Nandar' from the mythical story of Shin Mway Loon and Min Nandar.

Rather, I went on a field trip to the Nga Moe Yeik Dam last Thursday, June 28 as a participant of an ecosystem services training program organized by the Global Water Partnership Southeast Asia (GWP-SEA), the Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department (IWUMD), and the Myanmar Water Partnership. The field trip to Nga Moe Yeik Dam was a part of one of the training modules on ecosystem services. 

Michael Spolum, Natel Energy's Regional Director of Business Development for South and Southeast Asia, led the field trip. Before visiting the Nga Moe Yeik dam, he presented a case study on how climate change can be expected to impact Myanmar, which is one of the country's most vulnerable to climate change.

He explained that Myanmar's existing water resource infrastructure – reservoirs, irrigation systems, and water-supply systems – are not designed to effectively manage the more frequent extreme precipitation events and droughts that will impact Myanmar due to climate change. This is true for most countries, not just Myanmar.

He then shared some key facts and figures about the Nga Moe Yeik reservoir, which is located 50 kilometers north of Yangon. The reservoir is designed to supply Yangon with 90 million gallons of drinking water per day and is also used to irrigate approximately 35,000 acres of farmland. Due to land use changes and deforestation in the watershed above the Nga Moe Yeik dam, the reservoir is experiencing sedimentation that is reducing its storage capacity, and thus it ability to provide water for Yangon and farmers. 

Michael asked the participants to consider the Nga Moe Yeik Dam based on the following questions:

1. What ecosystem services does the Nga Moe Yeik dam depend upon to work effectively?

2. What adaptive measures can we undertake to protect and enhance the climate resilience of the Nga Moe Yeik dam and reduce sedimentation risks

3. What economic value should we assign to the watersheds that protect the Nga Moe Yeik Dam and the drinking and irrigation water it supplies to the Yangon Region? 

4What are the current threats to the ecosystem services that protect the dam?

Michael then explained to the participants about three types of adaptive measures to protect Nga Moe Yeik that included: 

  1. "Green" ecosystem solutions like forest conservation and strategic watershed restoration; 
  2. "Grey" structural solutions, like check-dams and beaver dam analogs – or BDAs; and 
  3.  Hybrid adaptive solutions that employ both green and grey measures.

When we visited the Nga Moe Yeik dam we could see that it was a very large reservoir. We learned that: 

  1. Researchers estimate that the dam may have lost up to 11% of its storage capacity since its construction in 1995; and 
  2. Green, grey and hybrid adaptive measures targeting the Nga Moe Yeik watershed could help protect the Yangon Region's water supplies.

We also learned that Myanmar possess over 200 irrigation and water-supply reservoirs (FAO/AQUASTAT, 2016). Although up-to-date and detailed data is not available, many of these reservoirs are also likely to be experiencing sedimentation problems. It is therefore obvious that the potential impact of sedimentation on the country could be significant, and that effective adaptive measures are needed to better protect out water supplies.

Water Supply to Yangon City

Ref: Kats, H. 2016. Sedimentation of Reservoirs: Nga Moe Yeik Case Study.

Ref: Advisian. 2017. Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience: Water in the Oil and Gas Sector.

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