Phuket tourism industry hit by escalating water shortage

Picture courtesy of Achadthaya Chuenniran

Phuket‘s tourism sector is grappling with an escalating water shortage crisis, as hotel operators face rising costs due to the scarcity. Thanet Tantipiriyakit, the Phuket Tourist Association President, yesterday, May 1, called on the government for a sustainable solution to the annual water deficits.

He cited that the primary reservoirs, Bang Wad, Klong Kata, and Bang Neow Dum, are currently operating at a 20% reduced capacity.

Despite the considerable revenue generated by Phuket‘s tourism industry each year, the government has yet to provide a viable solution to the water issue. Consequently, the tourism industry suffers as hotel operators are compelled to purchase water while maintaining pricing standards to avoid overcharging guests, said Thanet.

“Phuket is the country’s prime tourist destination. We are supposed to have a better water supply system.”

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Sukrid Klinson, the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) branch manager, reported that the Bang Wad Reservoir holds a water volume of 1.17 billion cubic metres (m³), which constitutes 16.8% of the total capacity of 10.2 billion m³. He added that the Klong Kata reservoir has a sufficient water supply for approximately 95 days, while the Bang Neow Dum reservoir can provide water for 100 days at its present level.

To tackle the water shortage, the province is currently negotiating with private water suppliers to secure an additional 1.4 million m³, with plans to procure 960,000 m3. However, businesses in high-demand areas such as Ao Yon and parts of Pa Tong continue to struggle with the heightened demand for water.

Sophon Thongsai, the head of the Phuket Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office, warned that the water level at the Bang Wad Reservoir is now critically low. Unless significant rainfall occurs soon, the PWA will be forced to decrease the discharge rate from the Bang Wad Reservoir and use water from private sources as an interim measure.

In a glimmer of hope, the Southern Meteorological Centre (west coast) predicts that the island may experience rainfall earlier than anticipated. Expected from the second week of May, the rainfall is projected to be more abundant than in previous years, reported Bangkok Post.

In the meantime, the PWA is providing free water supplies to drought-stricken areas and needy communities upon request through local administrative organisations, according to Sophon.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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