PATONG: Nipawan Bussarawit, a marine biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC), has confirmed that the rising level of “organic contaminants” in Patong Bay has been a contributing factor in the explosive growth of stinking brown seaweed that has been washing up on Patong Beach for the past month.
K. Nipawan said that the water quality in Patong Bay was still at acceptable levels, but the rise in its organic content could have spurred the increased growth of the seaweed, which she confirmed as Cladophora.
“Cladophora grows naturally, but the factors that cause this seaweed to bloom so much like this are the high levels of nutrients and the high temperatures.
“The high organic content comes from wastewater. If we had a good wastewater-treatment system, the water being released into the bay shouldn’t have organic waste – or inorganic waste – that would cause the seaweed to grow.”
K. Nipawan said that the seaweed might upset tourists with its bad smell and by making the water look dirty, but added that it is not harmful to people.
Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukbal defended Patong Municipality’s efforts to deal with the problem. “Patong Municipality sends workers to clean up the seaweed every day, and tests the water quality every week.
“The water quality is not that bad, and even the PMBC has told us that the seaweed grows not just because of the organic material but also from the weak current and the right amount of sunshine – and it’s not harmful to humans.
“We know that it’s not nice for tourists. We will send workers to clean the beach more often.”
However, K. Chairat was not optimistic that cleaning the beach would solve the problem even in the short term. “This seaweed will be here for a while, and it will go away when the current gets stronger,” he said.
K. Chairat also defended the Municipality’s attempts to solve Patong’s wastewater-treatment problems. “The municipal wastewater treatment plant can handle 12,000 cubic meters of wastewater a day, and we will have a new plant of the same capacity built soon.
“The new plant will take 900 days to build, but the Governor wants it finished quicker. He wants the contractor to complete the plant in 500 days. However, it’s currently still under negotiation.”
He added that people who see untreated wastewater being dumped into Patong Bay should call Patong Municipality at Tel: 076-342080 or him directly at Tel: 01-8916256.
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