Gov urges action to avert water crisis

PHUKET CITY: Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura has urged the Phuket Irrigation Office (PIO) and the Phuket Waterworks Office (PWO) to ensure there is enough mains water to meet demand in 2006, when an expected five million tourists are expected to push dry-season supplies to the limit.

Speaking at the monthly “Governor Meets the Press” conference at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday morning, the Governor said he expects 15 million tourists to visit Thailand in 2006, about a third of them coming to Phuket.

“We certainly face shortages and need to find ways to supply as much water as possible,” he said, adding that hotels faced shortages in 2005 despite the sharp downturn in tourist arrivals.

PIO Water Distribution Chief Suwin Anukul told the media that Cabinet on January 10 approved a 66-million-baht budget to pipe water from the Hitlor and Manik tin mine ponds in Tambon Srisoonthorn, Thalang, which have a combined capacity of 2 million cubic meters. The new pipeline, which should be ready in June, will run south 17 kilometers and resupply a tin mine in Kathu on land under the control of the Phuket Excise Office.

Summarizing the situation at Bang Wad Reservoir in Kathu, K. Suwin said supply there is now 5.2 million m³, down slightly from 5.5 million m³ at the end of 2005. Total rainfall at the dam in 2005 was 2,012 millimeters, about 85% of the normal yearly average of 2,375mm.

To make supplies last as long as possible, the PIO plans to pump about 1 million m³ per month for the first five months of 2006, with the PWO receiving about 60% of the water and Phuket City Water Supply Department the remainder.

PWO demand is approximately 46,000 m³/day, about 20,000m³/day of which is met by pumping from Bang Wad Reservoir. Additional year-round sources include Loch Palm Golf Course (8,000 m³/day) and two pumping stations on Klong Bang Yai that have a combined sustained yield of 18,000 m³/day.

Phuket City Water Supply Department uses 26,000 m³/day on average. Bang Wad Reservoir will supply half of this until – according to projections – supplies run out at the end of May. The remaining demand will be met by pumping from seven tin mines, which currently hold 1.5 million m³, enough to last for 115 days or until the end of April, K. Suwin reported.

In the medium term, work on two new reservoirs, the 7.2-million-m³ Bang Niew Dum Reservoir in Thalang and the 5.7-million-m³ Klong Krata Reservoir in Chalong, would be completed in 2008 and 2009 respectively, he added.

A plan to divert water to Phuket from Chieo Lan Reservoir in Surat Thani, touted as a long-term solution, is still undergoing feasibility and environmental impact studies, and has not yet been presented for approval by Cabinet.

Phuket News

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