Official offers homemade fix for Phuket’s water sources

PHUKET: As Phuket enters its tourism high season, the annual period when local water sources are depleted at great rates to cope with the huge influx of people onto the island, one local official has spoken out on Phuket’s water issues and the critical factors in resolving them.

Nanyaroon Yadee, 50, of the Pa Khlok Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor) Public Works Division believes Phuket has much to gain through better water management.

“A public hearing was held recently by the Phuket Provincial Office as part of a project to draft a master plan for long-term solutions to water issues in Phuket.

“It was said that Phuket might need to lay water pipes to bring in water from Ratachaprapha reservoir (in Surat Thani Province) to solve the ongoing issue of water shortages,” he explained.

“It is a good idea to support everyone’s needs, but I think this idea ‘spoils’ the Phuket people. It’s not that I don’t agree with the plan – I agree with laying the pipes. However, authorities should also give support to the idea of local residents being more self-sufficient,” said Mr Nanyaroon.

“Phuket’s focus on tourism is the reason we have water problems every year. We welcome people from different parts of the world who use our water.

“The authorities then have the responsibility of providing enough tap water for these people and these “new” systems allow local residents to ignore the idea of being self-sufficient.

“Now they are waiting for tap water lines to pass their houses, despite having no problems with using groundwater in the past,” he said.

Mr Nanyaroon suggested that if the authorities were supporting the idea of local residents using groundwater, the number of people facing water shortages would be greatly reduced.

“This idea is not helpful for people living ‘in town’, who don’t have anywhere to dig a well, but it’s very useful for people living ‘out of town’, and 80 per cent of the area of Phuket is considered ‘out of town’,” he said.

The tin-mining lagoons dotted all over Phuket were sources that could easily be greater utilized, Mr Nanyaroon said.

“The surrounding areas should also have groundwater. I believe these areas have 10 times more water than is seen in the mining ponds,” he added.

“Some say they [the authorities] will not use the groundwater because it is ‘rusty water’. So why don’t the authorities use their resources to at least treat the water enough so that it can be used for laundry, baths, and washing dishes?” he asked.

“I have a seven-meter-deep well at my house in Kamala that has rusty water. I solved the problem by creating my own water filter.

“I used cement-drain pipes with four layers of filters: bricks, small stones, charcoal and sand. After passing through the filter the water is stored in three other containers made of cement pipes. This filtration method produces water clean enough to use in my house,” he explained.

Mr Nanyaroon pointed out that the cost of digging a new well starts at about 20,000 baht, but by installing a filtration system will save homeowners a small windfall over a period of years.

“More than just being self-reliant, if an area can support multiple wells, it is possible to sell the water to neighbors or to hotels,” he said.

“If I can do this by myself, at my own home, I think government authorities should have even better ideas and technology to support methods of self-sufficiency like this,” he added.

Mr Nanyaroon urged all people of Phuket to consider such options that will help stave off future water shortages.

“Please, authorities and local residents, I ask that you focus more of your resources and thoughts on this idea of self-sufficiency. I am sure we will be able to solve Phuket’s water-shortage problems in the near future this way,” he urged.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

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