Image-conscious Patong to dredge 'black' waste canal

Image-conscious Patong to dredge 'black' waste canal

Phuket: Patong municipality will start cleaning up Pak Bang canal from Monday after images of black wastewater flowing into the canal went viral this week.

"We are going to sign a contract with the contractor and expect to begin the cleaning-up process by next week. Not many tourists are being impacted as the canal is located in the south of Patong, where there are few hotels. But this could hurt the province's image," Chalermluck Kedsup, mayor of Patong Municipality, told the media.

Her statement came after Phuket governor Norapat Plodthong on Wednesday invited several agencies, including representatives from the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deal with the problem.

Under the terms of the agreement, the department will transfer the clean-up duties to Patong municipality.

Tasked with cleaning up the canals in the province, the department spent 398 million baht on hiring a contractor to dredge them as a flood-prevention measure. But the work has been delayed for over two years, during which time more sediment has accumulated in the waterways.

This has tarnished the reputation of the seaside town after heavy rain on Monday dispersed more dirt from canals into the Andaman in vicinity of coral reefs.

Ms Chalermluck also pointed the finger at private households and buildings for failing to send wastewater to be treated at the Patong Municipality's wastewater treatment system. To avoid paying the treatment costs of 5 baht per cubic metre, many property owners simply discharged their wastewater into canals and the sea.

Another problem is the limited capacity to treat wastewater, with the municipal wastewater treatment facility expecting to soon hit its capacity of 28,000m³ a day.

She said it will soon begin building the latest phase of the system, which it expects will be operational this year. That would mean an extra 9,000m³ could be treated on a daily basis.

Pornsri Sutthanarak, director of the 15th Regional Environment Office, said marine ecologists will inspect the impact of discharging the water at the coral site near the south end of Patong Beach.

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