Desal plant “ready by high season’

KARON: Construction of a 528-million-baht desalination plant is now 90% complete and the plant should be ready to begin providing 12,000 cubic meters of tap water daily to Patong and Kata-Karon in the upcoming high season – if all the necessary permits can be obtained in time.

At the Kata Beach Resort on Friday, Phuket Vice-Governor Niran Kanlayanamit chaired a meeting to inform tourism industry businesses and relevant government agencies about the project, intended as a “medium term” solution to the island’s chronic water shortages during the high season, when demand for water is greatest but rain most infrequent.

The plant, being built by REQ Water Services Co Ltd under a 20-year build-and-operate contract with the Phuket Provincial Water Supply (PPWS), is located next to a bend in the Phuket-Karon Rd, not far from the Central Karon Village Resort. What will happen at the end of the 20 years has not yet been decided.

The plant will convert seawater into potable water by using “Reverse Osmosis” (RO) technology. Pumps will push the seawater through a membrane. The membrane allows the water through, but rejects the passage of salt.

PPWS Manager Sayan Wareearoonroj told the meeting, “We are nearly finished with the construction and have all the equipment ready to install.”

Like the bypass road widening project that was supposed to take 210 days but took nearly two years to complete, the project still faces stumbling blocks that are bureaucratic rather than technical.

“We are still waiting for permission from the Phuket Public Works and Town and Country Planning Office to lay the intake pipes over the seabed. We also need permission to build a storage tank atop a hill at an elevation of 101 meters [above sea level],” he said.

K. Sayan was referring to a Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ban on structures above 80 meters that has been in effect in the province since 1997 as a precuation against the triggering of landslides.

Because of the ban, the PPWS will need special permission to install its 2,500-cubic-meter storage tank in the preferred location, in order to ensure sufficient pressure to serve consumers at lower elevations.

“Although the project has been delayed because of government procedures, we expect to finish it and have it ready to serve to public in time for the coming high season,” K. Sayan said optimistically.

When the Gazette last reported on the project the project, in May, the plant was then also described as 90% complete, with a projected start-up day last month.

In a telephone interview with the Gazette, K. Sayan confirmed that once the plant is up and running, consumers in Patong and Kata-Karon can expect a great improvement in water quality, as the tin mine water they are used to is replaced with potable water from the new plant.

Phuket News
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