Phuket

Island to get water from Surat Thani?

PHUKET CITY: Surasak Anakkhaphan, Adviser to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Suwit Khunkitti, today proposed that water be piped from Chieo Lan Reservoir in Surat Thani Province as a long-term solution to Phuket’s chronic – and worsening – water shortage problems.

At a meeting at the Phuket Provincial Hall, K. Surasak explained that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had allocated each minister the responsibility of solving drought problems in two provinces, and that ICT Minister Suwit Khunkitti was given responsibility for Phuket and Phang Nga provinces.

Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura said that Phuket currently has about 19 old tin mine lagoons that can be used as water sources. He added that Phuket will have another two water sources in the future: a dam at Klong Krata in Chalong that will be able to hold 5.5 million cubic meters of water, and another at Bang Niew Dum in Thalang, which will be able to store 7.2 million cubic meters.

However, these projects both appear to have ground to a halt. The original plans for the Bang Niew Dum dam were ditched in early March, and new plans are being drawn up so that the dam will be more resistant to earthquakes.

In addition, the Gazette understands that the Klong Krata project is stalled because residents who would have to relocate have turned down government offers to buy their land.

Regardless, K. Surasak said, “If we build the Klong Krata and Bang Niew Dum reservoirs by 2007, Phuket will not have water problems for the following 15 years.” But, he added, “In the longer term, we have to investigate whether to put a pipe from the dam in Surat Thani to [supplement] supply to Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket.”

He said that the pipeline would be 190 kilometers long and would cost, at today’s prices, about 3.9 billion baht.

Governor Udomsak set a June 5 deadline for the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to give K. Surasak any appropriate information about Phuket’s water sources and its suggestions for solving the island’s water shortage problems.

ICT Minister Suwit is expected to report his findings to the central government within the following week.

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