Phuket Opinion: More dam projects needed

PHUKET: Work on the much-needed 5.7-million-cubic-meter Klong Krata reservoir in the foothills behind Wat Luangpu Supha in Chalong can finally proceed, now that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) has finally approved a request by the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office (PPIO) to use a 60-rai plot of Forest Department land needed to begin construction.

The issues holding up approval for three years were never announced, but they certainly weren’t related to protests by tree-hugging locals or attempts by officialdom at environmental preservation. The basin itself is today mostly a treeless wasteland, its former natural beauty debauched by decades of tin-mining and rubber plantation.

The project will undoubtedly be a boon to the local environment, providing a reservoir with ring road and park that will greatly enhance the attractiveness of the area, which already boasts one of the island’s best-known temples and a golf course.

Beyond question, Phuket needs this project – and many others like it. Although blessed with a staggering average annual rainfall of almost 3,000 millimeters, the island has suffered chronic water shortages for decades.

During much of every year, water must be trucked over the hills to hotels on the west coast. Some hotels need more than 100 loads a day, the cost of which is crippling.

The slow-moving water tankers running over the hills also cause traffic jams, accidents and even the odd fatality when their brakes fail while descending the steep grades.

All this adds to the hassle and expense of doing business or living in Phuket – hassles and expenses that, in these parlous economic times, the island might surely do without.

In many parts of Phuket, it is not uncommon for desperate home dwellers whose pipes have gone dry to bathe in bottled water.

Others leave spigots turned on, tubs beneath them, in anticipation of catching what they can when the authorities turn on the water for a brief period. This leads to needless waste when no one is in the house to turn them off after the tubs are full.

In 2010, water supply shortages persisted well into May in some areas. Those of us in the newspaper business noted the irony of reporting floods and landslides while at the same time writing stories about water shortages.

The PPIO expects demand for water to grow by 27 million cubic meters annually over the next 17 years. Phuket needs to increase storage capacity as quickly as possible if there is any hope of meeting this demand. Thus, there is simply no excuse for red tape to get in the way.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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