Phuket: Patong water shortage or lack of planning?

Phuket: Patong water shortage or lack of planning?

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Looks like visitor arrivals has significantly outpaced water infrastructure growth.

Patong residents have written to complain to the council about the lack of fresh water while at the same time, a large freshwater pond on the other side of the island is being rapidly filled in.

Those are the diverging approaches to water on Phuket, a holiday island desperately in need of a conservation policy that supplies the needs of residents and visitors all year round.

The irony is that if Phuket could save more of the water that falls in bucketloads during the wet season, a prolonged dry season would never again leave residents with taps that don’t produce water.

Patong’s acting mayor, Chairat Sukban, told Phuketwan today that he’d received a letter from resorts, restaurant owners and residents asking what had happened to the popular west coast city’s water supply.

About 50 percent of Patong has been dry for three days, a council staff member confirmed, and residents said this high season was producing shortages that appeared to be about average or perhaps a little worse than in previous holiday peaks.

”This year, though,” one resident told Phuketwan ”the problem is exacerbated because some of the fresh water trucks are filled with dirty water. I can’t imagine what tourists make of Patong if they turn on the shower and brown water comes out.”

The resident said he’d rejected a truckload of water priced at 1000 baht because he tested it and found it was too dirty.

”Others probably need to check the water too,” he said. ”I know quite a few people are not happy to not be able to get regular supplies of usable water through the taps.”

Khun Chairat said that the Provincial Waterworks Authority was responsible. The PWA’s Tamrong Kumpet said today that the problem was the flow of the water, not the supply.

”We can push 1500 cubic metres through the system in an hour but once demand grows too great, we can’t meet demand.” Currently demand was running at 105,000 cubic metres and the system could supply 90,000 cubic metres so rationing had to be applied.

”The water system has failed to keep up with development,” he said. ”Councils are able to use trucks to take water from Bang Wad in these situations. But with the numbers of tourists growing so fast, there’s pressure on the system’s ability to cope.”

The pipes are to be enlarged next year, Khun Tamrong said. Phuket has Bang Wad reservoir in central Phuket and Bang Neaw reservoir in the north of the island with Klong Krata reservoir in Chalong due for completion in the south next year.

Conservationists, though, believe every new property project on Phuket should have its own rainwater tanks with ponds as well on larger projects to reduce the drain on public supplies.

The value of fresh water is not widely appreciated, with a large tin mine lagoon in Phuket City being filled in at present while residents in Patong go short of water

According to a Rassada council spokesperson who prefers to remain anonymous, the owner of the pond was asked to buttress the shore at one end to prevent the water eroding a public road.

Nearby residents now say that scores of truckloads are still dumping soil into the pond every day and it appears the filling process may not stop until the pond disappears.

”The property owner may realise the pond is more valuable filled in and sold for housing,” one neighbor said. ”But it’s a shame about the houses that once had a ‘lakeside view’ and the value of the pond as a community asset.”

Phuket Wan

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