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Desalination plant working at “near capacity’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Desalination plant working at “near capacity’ | The Thaiger
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KARON: After months of rectifying problems related to unstable power supply, Thailand’s second-largest desalination plant is finally working near full capacity, the Gazette has learned.

The reverse-osmosis (RO) plant, located at the hairpin turn on the road from Karon to Patong, was completed mid-2006 at a cost of 528 million baht by REQ Water Service Ltd.

By mid-2007, the plant was unable to fulfill its obligation to pump and treat 12,000 cubic meters of potable water daily and was facing the prospect of large fines.

REQ Managing Director Jaturong Sa-duangkarn told the Gazette that the electrical supply problems were finally overcome in November, when the Phuket Provincial Electricity Authority (PPEA) changed the plant’s power source from a substation in Chalong to a closer one in Patong.

Exposed sections of the supply lines were protected by blue plastic fittings to prevent rust, he added.

“We still have the problem of power failures, but not as bad as in the past. Disruptions have been reduced from about 10 times a day to about three,” he said.

Current production rates range from 10,000 cubic meters per day to 12,000 cubic meters per day, he said.

REQ was not forced to pay fines for the delays as the shortcomings of the power supply were deemed by the government to be “beyond the company’s control”, he said.

The plant, which uses 4 megawatts of electricity every hour, has monthly electric bills in the millions of baht.

About 40% of the seawater treated emerges as pure RO water; the rest is highly saline effluent that is discharged about a kilometer offshore.

K. Jaturong confirmed that the RO water supplied to the Phuket Provincial Water Supply (PPWS) by the plant is “100% potable”, though he stopped short of actually recommending that people drink it.

He could not confirm that the PPWS distribution system was up to potable water standards, he said.

PPWS Manager Sayan Wareearoonroj told the Gazette that users in the Kata and Karon area are supplied directly from the RO plant.

The remainder of the water is pumped over the hill to Patong, where it is mixed with water from the Bang Wad reservoir, he said.

Despite the differences in quality, rates for the water are the same in both locales.

The PPWS buys water from the RO plant at 40 baht/cubic meter and sells it at rates ranging from 11 baht/cubic meter for homes to 32 baht/cubic meter for certain types of businesses.

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