Look at a map of western Nakorn Sawan and Kamphaengphet provinces, north of Bangkok, and you will see a long, narrow mountain ridge running from North to South. In the middle of this ridge is a narrow gap, through which runs the Mae Wong River, forming the provincial border.
But look at this place through the eyes of an engineer, and what you see is a perfect location for a dam.
This is exactly what engineers saw and planned some two decades ago when they first proposed the Mae Wong Dam. But that was not an auspicious time to build dams in Thailand. The hydro-power and irrigation authorities were at a disadvantage in the face of opposition from a nascent environmental movement. Back then, the movement was flush with its successful opposition to the much larger Nam Choan Dam in a wildlife sanctuary to the west of Mae Wong, bitter from its failure to stop the Pak Mun Dam in the Northeast, and grief-stricken from the suicide of Seub Nakhasathien, one of its champions, following encroachment on the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary that he had managed.
Fast forward to 2013. Mae Wong Dam is once again in the news, thanks in no small part to the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation that was established more than two decades ago in Seub’s memory. Opposition to the proposed multipurpose solution to the country’s floods and droughts has brought environmentalists onto the streets of Bangkok in numbers that have not been seen for quite some time.
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