Chiang Mai University has partnered with the public sector, in collaboration with the civic network, to revitalise Mae Kha Canal, which has a long-standing history as the city’s main canal. The goals of this project are (1) to increase the flow of good quality water to 1 cubic metre per second, (2) to score higher than 30 on the Water Quality Index (WQI), (3) to improve the landscapes on both sides of the canal, and (4) to involve locals in the conservation and development of the canal. As a result, Mae Kha canal will be able to reclaim its status as the river of Lanna culture, tradition and lifestyle, as well as being a site for tourism and historical study, consistent with the slogan, ‘a beautiful free-flowing canal with clear water that brings happiness to the community.’
CMU Faculty of Engineering’s Assoc. Prof. Chuchoke Aryupong, who is the head of the working party at the Academic Support Centre for Water Management, has explained that Mae Kha Canal was used for agriculture, drainage and recreation in the past. Mae Kha originates in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park and flows over 31 kilometres past the upper part of the city and down to the lower part. Its condition had declined immensely in the past few decades, due to the encroachment of its banks as well as wastewater being produced by communities and industry, so as to reach to its lowest point. The canal, polluted with dirty, black water resembled something like a dead canal. In 2012, Chiang Mai Province, CMU Faculty of Engineering and the civic network joined forces to drive the revitalisation and development of the canal through Master Plans 1 - 2 and the Quick Win to promptly achieve those goals. There are four key activities: 1. managing budget water sources that ensure sufficient flow into the canal throughout the seasons to keep good quality water in at all times and preserve the aquatic ecosystem; 2. implementing landscape improvements, particularly in the urban zones, and to find the potential landmarks of each zone; 3. Surveying and designing a wastewater collection and treatment systems in order to request a construction budget; and 4. allocating space and accommodation for future encroaching by related parties, as well as organising activities to promote awareness and engagement in the canal’s maintenance to the general public, youth, communities, volunteer groups and the public and private sectors.
The tireless dedication of CMU and its alliances have resulted in significantly cleaner water compared to that of recent past years, a resolution for the persistent encroachment, and improved living conditions in a clean and pleasant environment with beautiful landscapes ideal for recreation. Once the development project is completed, it can be highlighted as yet another attraction as we welcome visitors to this beautiful city.