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More sewage treatment for Phuket



PHUKET: Karon Municipality will levy charges on hotels, restaurants and other small businesses in the area for the wastewater they produce.

The scheme, to start in October, will affect hotels and businesses in Karon, Kata and Kata Noi.

Restaurants will be charged a flat rate of 5.25 baht per operating square meter, and hotels will be billed at 84 baht per room.

The move, in line with “the polluter pays” principle, is an attempt to share wastewater treatment costs among the hotels and businesses responsible for producing untreated effluent.

Karon Mayor Thawee Thongcham said most large hotels in the district already have their own wastewater treatment facilities, some with very high standards.

The law requires that wastewater discharged into public waterways must not exceed 20 mg/L in Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels, a key indicator of water quality.

Wastewater that exceeds 20 mg/L in BOD levels is considered polluted.

The wastewater discharged from hotels in Karon that flows into the sea usually has 7 or 8 mg/L in BOD levels, which is very good.

“But many restaurants and small businesses have no wastewater treatment capacity whatsoever,” Mayor Thawee said.

“We have come up with a target for the funds we need for wastewater treatment in the district to make sure water discharged into the environment will not cause any degradation.

“We cannot charge only households and small businesses for this, because they will feel overburdened. None of the businesses want to admit that they discharge polluted water into the waterways,” he added.

Tourism is the main industry in the district, with more than 90% of businesses relying on foreign visitors for their livelihood.

Hence businesses and hotels have a common interest in looking after the quality of the beaches and environment.

Patong and Phuket City Municipalities also have similar schemes in place that involve private-sector wastewater treatment.

Cherng Talay Municipality is in the process of planning a similar scheme and Kamala has applied for funding for seven small wastewater treatment plants under the government’s Thai Khem Kaeng (Strong Thailand) economic stimulus package.

Municipalities and government agencies in Phuket must coordinate work better so different environmental protection policies will complement each other, Mayor Thawee added.

Karon Municipality has a system that is able to treat 6,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day. During the low season, the system operates below capacity at 3,000 to 4,000 cubic meters per day.

In the high season, however, total wastewater exceeds 8,000 cubic meters per day.
The municipality is planning to upgrade the system to increase capacity to 12,000 cubic meters per day.

It is projected that the upgrade will cost up to 200 million baht.

— Anand Singh


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