Koh Samui’s drought nightmare vs Phuket’s flooding chaos

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Koh Samui is reeling from an acute water shortage as its reservoirs are drying up amid a prolonged drought. On the neighbouring island of Phuket, residents are battling heavy rainfall and flooding.

Koh Samui’s main reservoir, with a capacity of 800,000 cubic metres, is down to a mere 10%, enough to last just two weeks. The Krajood reservoir fares slightly better at 25% capacity, sufficient for about 30 days. Chaweng Reservoir, although containing 2 million cubic metres, holds brackish water, rendering it unusable.

In response, the provincial waterworks in Koh Samui have implemented a zoning system for tap water distribution. However, residents in several communities report having been without water for nearly a week.

A food vendor at Lamai Beach told of his plight.

“I’ve been spending 300 baht every other day on water from private distributors, about 4,500 baht a month because there’s been no tap water at my house for the past three days.”

Amnart Chotechuang, a member of the Surat Thani Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO), revealed that the PAO has proposed a budget of approximately 2.5 billion baht to build a second pipeline from the mainland. The existing pipeline delivers an average of 19,000 cubic metres of water daily, insufficient to meet the island’s agricultural and tourism demands.

Meanwhile, Phuket is preparing for heavy rain expected from today until next Monday, July 8. Officials are installing water pumps in canals and flood-prone areas. However, residents complain that efforts to clear sediment and tree branches, which have obstructed roads and waterways since last week’s massive flooding, are progressing slowly.

“If the debris isn’t removed quickly, we’ll face more flooding this week.”

Phuket experienced around 330 millimetres of rainfall last week, leading to widespread flooding. Weerapong Kerdsin, dean of the Faculty of Technology and Environment at Prince of Songkhla University’s Phuket campus, blamed the unusual rainfall and unregulated city expansion, which hampers water drainage into the sea.

He also noted that the loss of forest cover, which used to absorb rainwater, has worsened the flooding situation on the island, reported Thai PBS World.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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