PHUKET: Patong Mayor Pian Keesin announced today that Patong Municipality will start charging residents and business owners for wastewater treatment.
The news was delivered this morning at a meeting with visiting members of the Senate Standing Committee for Natural Resources and the Environment. The committee members are on a two-day fact-finding visit to Phuket.
“Patong is continually growing. More people are coming to visit and more are coming to stay permanently. This means more wastewater is produced every day, which is costing us more for wastewater treatment. So Patong people should shoulder part of this burden,” Mayor Pian said.
He explained that the Patong Council will approve the motion on Monday, before passing it on to the Governor’s Office for approval.
Once Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha follows through on the motion, Patong Municipality will launch a three-month public awareness campaign before levying the fees, he said.
“We will start charging households and commercial buildings. Most homeowners in Patong live in one room and rent out other rooms in the house, and most commercial buildings here are for rent and have small businesses, such as laundries. These people also produce wastewater,” said Mayor Pian.
Wiriya Tevanukul, an engineer at Patong Municipality’s Sanitation Division, explained that Patong Municipality has charged wastewater treatment fees since 1999.
“But we have been charging only hotels and restaurants. Hotels are charged 600 baht per room per year, while restaurants – including bars – are charged 40 baht per square meter,” she said.
However, over the years Patong Municipality has borrowed 200 million baht from the National Environment Foundation to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, said Ms Wiriya.
A condition of the loan was that Patong Municipality must start charging the public for wastewater treatment from 2011 onward, and must pay back to the foundation 3.5% of all revenue received for wastewater treatment until 2028.
The National Environment Foundation set the fees on June 2 last year, to be brought into effect this year.
“Patong Municipality has now applied for a 95 million baht loan* to further upgrade the plant to boost its treatment capacity from 23,250 to 32,250 cubic meters of wastewater a day. We are waiting for that loan to be approved, too,” Ms Wiriya added.
The new fees will be levied according to water supplied to the premises: 2.5 baht per cubic meter for households; 3.75 baht per cubic meter for government offices, state enterprises, foundations and small business; and 5 baht per cubic meter for industrial operations and big businesses.
Ms Wiriya said the new fees would not be too taxing on Patong’s 6,700 registered households.
“One household with four people uses about one cubic meter of water a day. That’s 30 cubic meters a month. At 2.5 baht per cubic meter, that means the household wastewater bill will be only about 75 baht per month,” she said.
* The original of this report mistakenly reported that Patong Municipality had recently taken out a new 9 million baht loan to upgrade the wastewater plant. The correct figure is 95 million baht. The error is regretted.
— Pimwara Choksakulpan
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