Phuket drought set to continue, driest early quarter in 10 years

PHUKET: The forecast for isolated, scattered showers across Phuket in the coming days will offer little reprieve to the island’s ongoing dry spell, which is Phuket’s driest January-to-March period in a decade, experts have warned.

“The average rainfall during January to March over the past 10 years is 277.71mm, but this year we received only 63.3mm,” said Phuket Meteorological Officer Suchart Yonchamroen.

“That is the lowest recorded rainfall for this period in 10 years,” he added.

This year’s early quarter contrasts with that of last year, when a record 541.8mm drenched the island, Mr Suchart noted.

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There is a 10-20% chance of drizzle in Phuket now, and the forecast is for the maximum temperatures to soar to 36 and 37 degrees Celsius for most of the coming week (click here).

The annual rains usually arrive in late April, but if they are late, the water situation for some parts of Phuket Town may be critical, Mr Suchart said.

Phuket Municipality Deputy Mayor Thavorn Jirapattanasophon said that water supplies for Phuket Town, Samkong and Chaofa and Sakdidet areas are enough to last until the end of April.

However, he urged residents to save water until the rains arrive, especially those living in the Chaofa and Sakdidet areas.

“These areas are supplied by the Suan Luang reservoir, and that reservoir is dry,” he said.

“Normally when we do not have enough water in Suan Luang reservoir, we buy water from a private company. This year that company is selling some of its water reserves to the Provincial Waterworks Authority [PWA], so we won’t be getting as much.

“I urge everyone to help conserve water or store water at home.

If need be, affected areas in Phuket Town will be placed on water rations, Deputy Mayor Thavorn warned.

“If the situation becomes critical, we will reduce water pressure, ration the water so it is turned on and off at set times each day, and supply water to some areas with a water truck,” he stated.

Mr Thavorn hoped that such drastic measures would not be necessary, as he has a backup plan of buying water from the PWA.

“We have signed a contract to buy water from the PWA, so if they have enough water we should have enough water too,” he said.

PWA Manager Pisak Chonlayut confirmed to the Phuket Gazette that the water on hand in Bang Niew Dum reservoir and at the Bang Wad Dam is enough to support Phuket Province until the rains arrive.

“We have enough water to supply the whole province for three to four months, even though there hasn’t been much rain,” Mr Pisak said.

Mr Pisak is so confident of his water reserves that he told the Gazette, “Don’t worry. We will have enough water to freely celebrate Songkran.”

However, like Phuket Town Deputy Mayor Thavorn, Mr Pisak also has a backup plan.

“In the unlikely event that our water reserves aren’t enough, we will buy more from Loch Palm and Chaofa reservoirs. We’ve already signed a contract with the owners of those supplies,” he said.

“We have about 5.9 million cubic meters of water in Bang Niew Dum reservoir to support Thalang, Cherng Talay, Pa Khlok, Koh Sireh and Rassada. Last year at this time we had 7.2mn cubic meters.

“There are about 2.9mn cubic meters at the Bang Wad Dam to support Phuket Town, Patong, Chalong and Rawai. Last year at this time there were 3.7 million cubic meters.

“For the Kata and Karon areas, we have contracted a private company to supply desalinated sea water at a rate of about 12,000 cubic meters per day,” he said.

— Saran Mitrarat

Phuket News
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