49 fined over canal discharges
Wastewater has been discharged into the Saen Saep canal from 412 different locations along the city waterway, according to a Pollution Control Department (PCD) survey released yesterday.
Most was from hotels, which accounted for 38.6% of wastewater discharged into the canal, followed by 25% from condominiums, 20.4% from hospitals and the rest from other establishments such as restaurants or offices. Households along the canal were left out of the PCD survey which began in middle of this year.
PCD director-general, Sunee Piyapanpong, yesterday said the department has charged 49 establishments with illegally discharging wastewater into a public watercourse because their level of pollution was deemed the worst.
These places are required to pay a 2,000 baht daily penalty until they fix waste management problems and halt discharging pollutants into the canal. The other 363 establishments were told to improve wastewater treatment standards. The PCD, however, refused to reveal the identity of the polluters. Saen Saep canal is considered one of the most important waterways in Bangkok. At 72km in length, the canal passes through 21 districts. Many buildings such as major department stores, hotels and hospitals, are dotted along the canal.
The authority is getting tougher on canal water pollution in Bangkok, according to Ms Sunee. Once clean enough for children to swim in, canals in Bangkok have been polluted over many years by wastewater discharged from houses and large buildings.
Ms Sunee admitted inspectors focused on commercial buildings such as department stores, hotels and office blocks, not households along the river which do not have wastewater treatment systems. "We have focused on major sources of water pollution along the canal. If we can control these big operators, it means we can help reduce a lot of pollution. But communities and individual households should also play a big role by setting up wastewater-filters to prevent direct waste discharge into the canal," she said. The PCD inspection was part of the government's masterplan to improve water quality in 12 canals in Bangkok.