PHUKET: Phuket's governor did not think the ''black'' water at Karon beach put anyone at risk, the local council asked the media to not make their stories too negative, and the village community leader who raised the alarm fumed today over the lack of serious solutions.
The tourists? They will most likely look at other destinations and make comparisons until the leaders of Phuket prove conclusively that the island's popular beaches are safe for swimming and environmental regulations are enforced.
Governor Maitree Intrusud visited Karon beach this morning in the wake of the latest reports of yet more needless pollution turning off tourists at one of Phuket's most popular beaches.
He splashed a little water on an arm but felt no urge to itch, had a sniff of the broad canal and reported no smell, then said it was ''clearly not a risk problem,'' despite the black color.
Efforts were made by the Karon municipality officials to have a negative story treated not with chemicals, but with a positive slant. Village community leader Winai Chidcheaw was having none of it.
''The canal was black yesterday and there was a very bad smell that is not quite so evident today,'' he said. ''These problems have been pointed out for a long time already. Residents would really like to see serious action taken.''
While not stripping off for a swim, Governor Maitree played down the color of the water and said it was not dangerous to the health of tourists, despite its color, according to recent official checks.
He said a three-point plan was proposed to address the issue:
.. the canal would be dredged wider, so the water could escape more quickly into the ocean.
.. checks would be made to make sure that all resorts had proper waste water control systems
.. once approved, the Karon municipality would spend 350 million baht upgrading its waste water system.
Phuketwan contends that a Phuket Beach Authority must be established to deal with all issues relating to Phuket's beaches before the local councils let the beaches degrade further.
No serious attempt is being made by the councils to preserve Phuket's most valuable natural assets. Within a few years, without serious environmental attention, the island's tourism future will be drastically reduced.
The problem will not come from a media reporting the truth, but from tourists who go home to tell their friends that Phuket is no longer a great swimming destination because the water is being allowed to turn ''black.''
If that happens, the governor and the Karon council will be the only ones swimming in it.