EGU2020-15824, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Monitoring and modelling mining impacts on water quality in Chindwin River Basin, Myanmar

Thanapon Piman1, Chayanis Krittasudthacheew1, Shakthi K. Gunawardanaa2, and Sangam Shresthaa2
Thanapon Piman et al.
  • 1Stockholm Enviroment Institute , Water Resources Managment Cluster , Thailand (
  • 2Water Engineering and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Thaialnd (

The Chindwin River, a major tributary of the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar, is approximately 850 km long with a watershed area of 115,300 km2. The Chindwin River is essential for local livelihoods, drinking water, ecosystems, navigation, agriculture, and industries such as logging and mining. Over the past two decades, Myanmar’s rapid economic development has resulted in drastic changes to socio-economic and ecological conditions in the basin. Water users in the basin reported that there is a rapid extension of gold and jade mining and they observed a noticeable decline in water quality along with increased sedimentation and turbidity. So far, however, Myanmar has not undertaken a comprehensive scientific study in the Chindwin River Basin to assess water quality and sources of water pollution and to effectively address issues of river basin degradation and concerns for public health and safety. This study aims to assess the status of water quality in the Chindwin River and the potential impact of mining activities on the water quality and loading through monitoring program and modeling approach. 17 locations in the upper, middle and lower parts of the Chindwin River Basin were selected for water quality monitoring. These sites are located near Homalin, Kalewa, Kani and Monywa townships where human activities and interventions could affect water quality. Water quality sampling and testing in the Chindwin River was conducted two times per year: in the dry season (May-June) and in the wet season (September-October) during 2015-2017. We monitored 21 parameters including heavy metals such as Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Copper (Cu) and Iron (Fe). The observed values of Mercury in Uru River in the upper Chindwin River Basin which located nearby gold mining sites shown higher than the WHO drinking standard. This area also has high values of turbidity and Total Suspended Solid. The SHETRAN hydrological model, PHREEQC geochemical model and LOADEST model were used to quantify the heavy metal loads in the Uru River. Results from scenario analysis indicate an increase in Arsenic and Mercury load under increment of concentration due to expansions in mining areas. In both baseline and future climate conditions, the Uru downstream area shows the highest load effluent in both Arsenic and Mercury. These heavy metal loads will intensify the declining water quality condition in Chindwin River and can impact negatively on human health who use water for drinking. Therefore, we recommend that water quality monitoring should continue to provide scientific-evidence for decision-makers to manage water quality and mining activities properly.  Water treatment systems for drinking water are required to remove turbidity, Total Suspended Solid, and Mercury from raw water sources. Raising awareness of relevant stakeholders (local people, farmers, private sectors, etc.) is necessary as many people living in the Chindwin River Basin are using water directly from the river and other waterways without proper water treatment.

How to cite: Piman, T., Krittasudthacheew, C., K. Gunawardanaa, S., and Shresthaa, S.: Monitoring and modelling mining impacts on water quality in Chindwin River Basin, Myanmar, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-15824,, 2020