Posted on February 14, 2020 Let Water Flow to Mae La Akee

The Mae La Akee Dam  and  Hydroelectric Project


The purpose of this project is to bring electricity and water to multiple villages surrounding Mae La Akee. This will improve the lives of the Karen people by bringing pressurized water for drinking and  bathing as well as  irrigation for gardens for fruits and vegetables.

My name is Richard L Binder, Jr. I am a member and elder at Calvin United Church of Christ in the Hungarian neighborhood of Birmingham in Toledo, Ohio. I ran a manufactured/modular home installation business for 29 years. We were a turn-key company and all work was done in house. In 2007 I started a third party inspection agency for the state of Ohio for the inspection of manufactured homes. I currently hold Ohio State contractor licenses for HVAC and electrical along with an E.S.I. (electrical safety inspector) license.

The Pastor of our church, Rev Mary J. Wood, started planting the seed for doing mission trips to improve the lives of Karen people in the summer of 2018. My first trip was to Hosana Karen Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas. On that day, I installed smoke alarms in the parsonage and residence. I also installed a fire alarm system in their school, and repaired various plumbing problems. My next trip to Thailand was sponsored by a Palmer Grant through International Ministries, SE Asia and Japan. One month before travelling to Thailand, we received a request for materials -concrete, wire baskets, water lines, and a turbine.

On my first day in Mae La Akee, I was able to see that a small homemade turbine with 12 AMP of power existed, and was connected to a 3″ PVC water line from a pond in the river. The next day we hiked up the mountain to find a suitable dam site.  On our way  from the Thai border to the village, we realized there was no infrastructure.

Dr. Wado, Assistant Principal at KKBBSC, a Karen school, had a vision for the project to provide electricity to 4-6 villages, supply power for a gristmill, and water for bathing and crop irrigation. I worked alongside Saw Gladdy, who has worked on dams in China and he hand built the small turbine for the existing hydroelectric in the village.


Phase I 

This began on January 2, 2020, with the construction of the interior of the dam. Most people in the local village helped with this, including children. When completed, the dam will contain around 1200 cubic yards of water to supply the 8″ Penstock line.

Phase II

To complete the dam upon my return in April, I will need at least one 20′ section of the 8″ C-900-DR-18 high pressure PVC pipe and an 8″ brass gate valve with adaptors to connect the two together. I plan to set the pipe through the interior of the dam and build the 1/2″ rebar cage that will be on 24″ centers. The final step in completing the dam is to pour a 6″ concrete encasement over the dam. The cost of constructing the dam to this point has been covered with various donations.

Phase III   

I plan to travel back in October to lay an 8″ Penstock line from the dam to the power house. At that time, I will need approximately 1200′ of the 8″ C-900-DR18 high pressure PVC pipe. The Penstock line will be supported by thrust blocks at each joint and supports at mid-span. The floor of the power house will be poured at this time along with taking the head pressure reading to determine what size of hydroelectric plant to order.

Phase IV

The plan is to return in January 2021, for the erection of the power house and the installation of the hydroelectric plant along with electric distribution equipment in the power house.

God called me in 2018, opened my eyes in 2019 and put me to work in 2020. I never knew the season of retirement would look like this. I would not change anything