Across the land: Dealing with water scarcity

PHUKET: Every April, the weather is blistering hot in Thailand, and it’s been no exception this year if not hotter. According to reports, it has not been as hot as this in Thailand for 65 years. Intense heat, attributed to the El Nino weather phenomenon, is causing a severe drought and water shortage throughout the region.

No exception for Phuket and driving around the island will show how the effects of climate change have affected the lakes and ponds, which are dry and barren.

The lush tropical gardens are now brown and dying if proper care has not been diligently given over the long heatwave this year. Gardeners are no doubt being kept very busy – watering and trying to keep the grass, plants and trees alive as much as possible.

There have also been constant disruptions to the water supply for domestic use to most areas on the island this year, and the hire of water trucks as an alternative source is a common sight in many developments. With the ever increasing number of hotels, housing estates, condominiums and apartments on the island, water supply can and will be a serious problem in the future.

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The water management cycle is quite interesting, starting with the source of water from rivers, lakes, oceans, wells and dams. Water is then treated through one or some of the following methods, namely filtration, disinfection, clarification, conditioning, softening (not always in that order). Then the water is either used domestically in homes for cleaning and washing, or commercially reprocessed. After that, we have the waste treatment cycle, wherein the water goes through one or more of the cycles of
filtration, disinfection, bio-treatment and recycling. Wastewater is then released into the river, ocean, field irrigation or sewers.

Water scarcity is one of the main risks to businesses on the island, and exposure to it can be minimized if it’s turned into a manageable risk. Educating locals, staff members, clients, and tourists to conserve and be diligent with the usage of water is a way to lessen the worsening problem.

There are now many new technologies in recycling water, such as rainwater and wash water to water plants and gardens, which helps to reuse treated wastewater and also save money.

Improving sewage systems promotes proper sanitation, and water is then cycled back to clean drinking water. Moves to improve irrigation practices by planting trees and plants that require less water will also help.

There are many things that have to be considered when it comes to water scarcity and conservation, and it would be good to see the commercial sector taking collective steps toward this end. If everyone on the island starts to take a step toward improving and making a difference no matter how small, we might not have to wait for the water truck to come by just to take a shower.

Amy Koh is the sales manager of Engel & Voelkers Phuket. To contact her or for more information, visit

— Amy Koh

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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