Masterplan to protect Phuket water
12-year project will halt dwindling levels
Phuket province is considering a raft of measures to combat a dwindling water supply caused by changing rain patterns and a rising number of visitors. These include expanding the infrastructure, recycling wastewater and desalinating sea water.
Narong Woonsew, the provincial governor, said the proposals were on Tuesday discussed in a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall.
He did not reveal the suggested budget for the major project, however, saying only that it would be submitted to the cabinet by the end of this month.
"Thailand's popular tourist destination has seen the demand for water rise 12% every year and, without finding more water supplies, a major water shortage is inevitable," he said.
However, he also stressed there was no risk of an imminent water shortage.
The demand for tap water, which currently stands at 80 million cubic metres, will rise to 112 million by 2032.
Most of the demand, an estimated 60%, comes from Phuket Town and the rest from its outskirts and village areas.
To cater for the higher demand, a provincial meeting proposed a water supply management masterplan for the province.
It would be developed in three phases -- short, medium and long term -- and is expected to be completed over the course of 12 years.
In the short term, the province plans to expand the storage capacity of the key Bang Niu dam and divert water from other resources. The project will start later this year and take one year to finish.
In addition, the provincial governor says that Phuket municipality will also recycle treated water from its wastewater treatment facility and that could supply more than 1,600 cubic metres of water to the municipality each day.
The province will then expand its supply by a further 6.7 million cubic metres by buying water from private companies. Some of this will be sea water that has been distilled into drinking water.
The province will also develop the Phangnga-Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority to provide more than 49 million cubic metres of water.
This middle-term plan is earmarked to take place from 2022-2024.
The long-term goal includes a plan to create reservoir of 10 million cubic metres of fresh water near Phuket Bay, an idea now being considered by the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR).
In another development, ONWR deputy secretary-general Samroeng Sangphuwong said that the rain that had fallen so far this week, plus a further deluge expected this weekend, would help replenish the water supply in 25 major reservoirs.
Mr Samroeng voiced his fear that the heavy rain might flood the Chao Phraya river basin.
Areas at risk include Phetchabun, Lop Buri, Saraburi and Ayutthaya provinces.