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No swim zone: A tourist surveys the disastrous discharge at Karon

Beach Smothered in Black Water

Friday, March 28, 2014
Phuketwan 'Brave Enough to Change' Campaign

PHUKET: Phuket officials were short for answers today as smelly polluted black water blanketed a large stretch of Karon beach, with litter and trash adding to the mix.

The latest dramatic sign of environmental degradation on Phuket's beaches came as Governor Maitree Intrusud joined tourism industry officials on a promotional trip to Macau.

''We are very upset,'' wrote Donetella and Paolo, two tourists whose booked a holiday probably based on brochures selling the ''pristine beauty'' of Karon beach.

The photographs told the story. If the governor had still been on Phuket, he may have acknowledged that the smell was bad and the black water was toxic.

He may have also asked the questions that Phuketwan asked of the Mayor of Karon, Tavee Tongchem.

PW: Can you give us an update please on the black water and trash on the beach and what you plan to do about it?

Mayor Tavee; Please can you call the director of engineering.

PW: How can you sure when it will be safe for people to swim at Karon beach?

Mayor Tavee: Call this number - 076 330187 - and ask for Khun Sakchai.

The mayor then rang off.

It was later established that the pollution was caused by a burst wastewater pipe.

Environmental authorities were this evening contacting resorts and asking them to advise their guests to steer well clear of the danger zone until the hole is repaired.

Today's full flush of pollution is just the latest indication that Karon beach, once noted for its fine squeaky sand and tranquility, is succumbing to environmental vandalism and lack of serious action in response by local officials.

Other Phuket beaches are also endangered by overdevelopment, by lack of policing of environmental regulations, and by corruption that leads to breaches going unpunished.

Many resort managements along Phuket's key west coast tourism strip restrict their interest to the boundaries of their facilities and merely send up silent prayers that authorities will one day learn what to do.

Meanwhile Phuket, like its great rival, Bali, faces a constant environmental struggle to preserve its once-wonderful natural assets.

Sadly, Phuket officials are trained to solve issues by compromise. But as Phuket and Bali tourists are discovering, there can be no compromise when it comes to protecting natural assets.

Phuketwan believes local authorities all over Phuket are not equipped with the foresight or the skills to understand the threat now being mounted to the future of tourism on the island.

We advocate establishing a new and powerful Phuket Beach Authority to save Phuket's prime tourist attractions for future generations of Thais and tourists.

We believe more people are gradually coming to the same conclusion.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


18th best beach in Asia according to the great tripadvisor! How????

Posted by phuket madness on March 28, 2014 17:01

Editor Comment:

There was a time when 'Lonely Planet' named Karon as the world's best family beach. Reputations are built on sand unless beaches have real protectors. Karon and Phuket's other beaches do not have real protectors. Resort managements who wish to protect their brand investment should be doing a whole lot more.
Then there are the drownings . . .


In 2012 it was estimated that around 20% of the water water in Thailand was being treated in proper waste water treatment plants .
And I think we have to add that many of the waste water plants may not be working optimally .
Thailand has a really heavy burden to lift here before that can be improved drastically, many many billions need to be invested not only in plants but in the sewage lines that have to be installed. The problem in Phuket is that the development for the tourist industry overtook the city planning decades ago and it is hard to catch up with that development.

Posted by Sailor on March 28, 2014 17:12


It's enough now. After many years of staying on Phuket I will say farewell to this once beautiful island. Of all the many advantages only the warm climate and the blue color of the sea have remained as pros. The cons are too many. Those who are responsible don't care as this would mean their income would be much smaller.

Posted by dieter staerk on March 28, 2014 17:19


Urrgh! Disgusting, shocking, horrible, is there no end to the shame? Blue budgie smugglers! Why do some people consider it acceptable to wander around in public in their under pants? Eeau!

Posted by gee on March 28, 2014 18:09


Had a similar bad case of persistent discharge last time I visited Karon.

Posted by gee on March 28, 2014 18:11


didn't this black water event just happen a few weeks ago?....and at that time didn't the governor assure everyone that all was ok and that the beach was safe for swimming?

Posted by sky on March 28, 2014 20:20


@ "gee" who said:

"Urrgh! Disgusting, shocking, horrible, is there no end to the shame? Blue budgie smugglers! Why do some people consider it acceptable to wander around in public in their under pants? Eeau!"

In public? He's on the beach!

Posted by Budgie on March 29, 2014 00:05


I agree with Dieter Staerk. There were some who used to chide me for my comments & suggested I voted with my feet. I have & with my bank account.

Phuket is losing out fast BUT suffering from ostrich syndrome. However no self respecting ostrich would stick its head in the sand that's there now.

Posted by Logic on March 29, 2014 01:43


Have had the same problem where I live at Kamala.

Posted by Ty on March 29, 2014 05:23


Not only Karon, but Kamala, Surin, Patong, and BangTao also have raw sewage dumped into the sea as the 'normal' way of dealing with sewage wastewater.

At Surin, beach vendors use an electric pump to move the sewage out of the permanent open sewer pit into the sea. Often families are bathing with small children and infants when this sewage is pumped directly into the sea.

This is not the result of a 'broken wastewater pipe', it is a result of failing to treat the sewage water at all, and using the ocean as a dumping ground. It has gone on here for years, and the illegal beach vendors pay the local councils to continue doing so.

A shameful and disgusting situation, that likely sickens hundreds (thousands maybe) of beach users every year.

It is easy to see these open sewers on the beach - the open cesspool and drain hoses right on the sand at Surin are easy to find - just follow the rank smell.

Posted by Lifeguard John on March 29, 2014 09:19


Nai Thon, too ! Black river running with excrement at the north end. Putrid and black when the tide comes in, clears up when the tide goes out.

Why does the male form incite you so? Especially this rather attractive one. If this were a pic of a woman in her underwear, aka a bikini, it would be perfectly fine, no doubt.

Posted by The Night Mare on March 29, 2014 11:46


If the guy in the blue underpants's nipples are the eyes, then he has the face of a bloodhound on his abdomen. Belly button and floppy skin either side form the nose and mouth. Ha ha ha, very funny indeed.

Posted by Robin on March 30, 2014 03:55


If you want to swim and the water looks polluted just go in, undeterred!

Posted by Manowar on March 30, 2014 10:16


Robin, do people still use LSD?

Posted by Manowar on March 30, 2014 19:06


@ manowar, that cracking sound you hear behind you, is the sound of the thin ice breaking. Bite your fingers and keyboard as you are standing dangerously close to libel laws in Thailand.

Posted by Robin on March 31, 2014 05:34


The answers from the mayor say it all. Don't ask me, not my responsibility, not me, blame someone else, etc... Same story again and again, will it never change?

Posted by chris on March 31, 2014 09:05


@The Night Mare: Please re-read my post - I was quoting "gee".

Posted by Budgie on March 31, 2014 12:18


Robin, you obviously have no idea of the requirements to satisfy a libelous comment. In fact it would not satisfy even one requirement, however don't let that stop you from from dreaming. Another all talk no action, non compos mentis contributor!

Posted by Manpower on March 31, 2014 14:15


What to do after the Russians and Chinese give up / wise up?

Posted by geoff on April 1, 2014 00:31

Sunday September 26, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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