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Koh Phi Phi has to address critical water problems

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Koh Phi Phi has to address critical water problems | The Thaiger

Special Report by Pratch Rujivanarom – PHOTOS: Sitang Pilailar

“The groundwater is currently unsafe for consumption and a threat to health. Harmful pathogens and heavy metals originating from water pollution offshore have contaminated it.”

The administrative authority of the Phi Phi Islands has once again called for help from the central government and state agencies to help address the chronic house and drinking water issues.

It has called for a coordinated effort to tackle a range of problems before the world-famous island paradise finds it tourism lifeline severely damaged.

The drinking-water problem on Koh Phi Phi Don in Krabi is not new but has been described as worsening and getting desperate. The problem has been studied by a research team from Kasetsart University’s Faculty of Engineering, which confirms that the renowned Andaman Sea island is suffering a severe shortage of clean freshwater.

The team found that the freshwater sources on the small island are insufficient for the growing number of visitors. The tap water has become contaminated with wastewater originating from tourism businesses unable to cope with the large volume of arrivals.

Though most of the Koh Phi Phi group is a protected marine reserve, part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, including large areas of Phi Phi Don, the largest island in the archipelago, are outside the park in the jurisdiction of the Tambon Ao Nang Administrative Organisation.

The large number of visitors pouring onto the island every high season has resulted in overpopulation, pollution and a shortage of freshwater.

Koh Phi Phi has to address critical water problems | News by The Thaiger

Sitang Pilailar, the lead Kasetsart University researcher for the water study, said that despite its wet climate – more than 2,000 millimetres of precipitation annually – the island has only two significant water-storage facilities, leaving it at a high risk of freshwater shortages.

“During the driest period of the year – from November to April – the island is packed with tourists, causing water demand to rise sharply, and meanwhile there’s no rain to refill the two freshwater ponds that are the only sources for piped water on the island,” Sitang said.

Due to the limited freshwater, she said, piped water is priced high, so some business operators instead use groundwater from shallow wells. But pumping out too much groundwater to supply rising demand can have severe long-term side effects on the underground supply, she warned. Lowering the groundwater level could allow saltwater in, rendering the freshwater undrinkable.

More immediately, her study found that the groundwater is currently unsafe for consumption and a threat to health. Harmful pathogens and heavy metals originating from water pollution offshore have contaminated it.

“Even though the island has a relatively efficient wastewater-treatment facility, wastewater is being generated far beyond the system’s capacity. The excess wastewater is being flushed directly to the sea and then gets absorbed into the groundwater,” Sitang said.

The findings do not surprise Phankam Kittithonkul, chief of administrative organisation. Phi Phi Don has been faced with major environmental issues for quite a long time, he said, and residents are unable to tackle them on their own.

“We’ve been trying our best to mitigate these problems by setting out projects to protect and clean the environment, but many issues are just too big for us to solve alone,” Phankam said.

For example, he said, in order to upgrade the wastewater-treatment facilities while also maintaining other infrastructure needed for tourism, the organisation would have to spend far more than the 170 million baht budget allocated to it each year.

“The allocation is calculated based on the resident population, but the reality is that a tourist zone like the Phi Phi Islands has very few officially documented citizens. The islands are overcrowded by visitors and workers from other areas, so we need a bigger budget from the central government and help from other agencies.”

Phankam said the administrative organisation also faced difficulties when dealing with state agencies, which he accused of either paying scant attention to the problems presented or providing insufficient assistance. Some agencies openly hampered local efforts, he said.

“We would like to again ask for the attention and help of the central government, and we also want the related agencies to work with us on improving the environment and quality of life for all people on Phi Phi Island,” said Phankam.

“We need to be able to maintain our beloved islands as one of the world’s most beautiful island retreats.”

From her perspective as an academic researcher, Sitang recommended that business operators install their own water-storage facilities that collect rainwater and wastewater-treatment systems that reuse wastewater. Those would go a long way towards a sustainable solution, she said.

She also suggested that the number of visitors be capped at the “carrying capacity” of the area – 12,000 to 27,000 people per day – to solve the overcrowding issue.

Koh Phi Phi has to address critical water problems | News by The Thaiger Koh Phi Phi has to address critical water problems | News by The Thaiger

ORIGINAL STORY: The Nation

 



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Baby Risso’s Dolphin rescued at Railay Beach in Krabi

The Thaiger

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Baby Risso’s Dolphin rescued at Railay Beach in Krabi | The Thaiger

PHOTO: DMCR

A baby Risso’s Dolphin has been rescued after being found on Railay Beach in Krabi on Sunday.

Officials at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) were notified that the baby dolphin was found of the east end of Railay Beach.

The DMCR says that the species is a baby Risso’s dolphin. This one is 250 centimetres long and weighs about 100 kilograms. The dolphin was weak and unable to swim by itself.

Wounds have been found around its head which marine staff believe was caused from being battered as it washed up onto the beach by waves.

The dolphin was taken to the Phuket Marine Biology Centre (PMBC) where it’s receiving love, attention and further treatment.

Risso’s dolphin is the only species of dolphin in the genus Grampus. It is commonly known as the Monk dolphin among Taiwanese fishermen. Some of the closest related species to these dolphins include: pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, melon-headed whales, and false killer whales.

Baby Risso's Dolphin rescued at Railay Beach in Krabi | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Krabi drug officers crack down on drugs and firearms

The Thaiger

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Krabi drug officers crack down on drugs and firearms | The Thaiger

Krabi Officers have seized 210,921 methamphetamine pills, 550 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 36 firearms and 19 bullets in the latest crackdown in Krabi.

Officers searched in 25 targeted area in Krabi where they have arrested 8 wanted drug suspects over the past week.

Methamphetamine pills have been sold in the region for as little as 55 baht per pill. More drug users are being arrested and police say the drug supply has increased, pushing down prices.

Read more from The Thaiger about the rise in the regional drug ‘explosion’ HERE.

Krabi drug officers crack down on drugs and firearms | News by The Thaiger Krabi drug officers crack down on drugs and firearms | News by The Thaiger Krabi drug officers crack down on drugs and firearms | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Update on renovations to Krabi International Airport

The Thaiger

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Update on renovations to Krabi International Airport | The Thaiger

The Thailand Airports Authority has updated the expansion and refurbishment plans currently underway at Krabi International Airport. They report that work on a third terminal building will be completed by 2022.

Manager Online reports that Amphawan Wannako, the director-general, says that work is also being done to refurbish Terminals 1 and 2, including the car parks.

“When the work is all done the airport capacity will be 3,000 passengers per hour with 8 million expected to use the facility annually.”

The infrastructure works are budgeted at 3.8 billion baht.

Amphawan says that passenger safety remains a paramount consideration. She noted that features of interest at the airport in the future will include improved check-in facilities and free wi-fi.

Update on renovations to Krabi International Airport | News by The Thaiger Update on renovations to Krabi International Airport | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Manager Online

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