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A 2009 headline said: Phuket's Stink Mountain Now on Toxic Overload

Answers Needed to Water Shortage, Garbage Oversupply

Monday, July 30, 2012
News Analysis

PHUKET: Two of Phuket tourism's most essential requirements - a year-round water supply and an efficient means of disposing of garbage - raise alarm.

Meetings about water and garbage on Phuket over the past fortnight continue to skirt the key issues and to ignore potential solutions.

As is so often the case, administrators on Phuket put their hopes in technology rather than attempting to change attitudes and approaches.

Despite heavy monsoon rains this Phuket low season, the high season is likely to once again bring water shortages and the need for water to be imported.

Phuket's garbage continues to mount despite provision of a second incinerator, with the likelihood of overspills growing each day.

Here's an update on the two important Phuket issues, the most critical factors, and potential solutions:

Phuket's Water Supply

ENOUGH water falls in Phuket's low season to supply Phuket with water all year long. Yet the officials overseeing Phuket's reservoirs who know best recently forecast that supplies will again run extremely low this high season, with some tourist areas likely to experience rationing.

The problem: the water that falls on Phuket during the low season mostly runs to the sea, often filling canals and causing flooding as it does so.

For decades, Phuket's rapid growth has outpaced the enlargement of its water suppy. A tourist island with resort-sized bathtubs, spas and swimming pools that need to be filled has to find ways of providing more water.

When Israel's Consul in Thailand, Eli Gil, visited Phuket last month, he suggested that Israel could help solve Phuket's chronic water shortage.

At a later meeting dealing with the water supply crisis, Vice Governor Dr Sommai Preechasin suggested taking up the offer. This is a great idea.

Around the world there are examples of places that have a similar problem to Phuket - heavy rain at one period of the year, no rain at other times.

Saving water is not difficult once the objective is plain and the community's needs are brought into sharp focus.

Year after year, Phuket, with reservoirs full, wonders where its water will come from in six months' time. The answer is plain: save the water when it falls.

As Eli Gil said, Israel has had to resort to desalination but that shouldn't be necessary on Phuket, where plenty of rain falls in the wet season.

In terms of budget priorities, provision of water all year long far outstrips Phuket's need for a convention centre or even a public transport system.

The answers are simple. Store the water that falls on Phuket for future use. Save the island from future embarrassment if, one of these days, it simply runs out of water.

The concept of conservation - building rain water tanks above ground or underground, making this kind of provision compulsory on new property estates - is not widely understood or promoted. It should be.

That lack of vision falls into the same category as the lack of a sustainable policy on garbage disposal through the ''Reuse, Reduce, Recycle'' philosophy, which brings us to . . .

Phuket's Garbage Mountain

EVEN more imminent than a water supply shortage is Phuket's mounting garbage disposal problem.

All of Phuket's garbage is transported to Phuket City's Saphan Hin dump, which as Phuketwan has reguarly noted is losing the battle to dispose of Phuket's waste.

Provision of a second incinerator has come just as the old incinerator broke down. Officials have now revealed that for 45 days every six months, the new incinerator will have to be closed for maintenance.

In other words, every year, Phuket will have at least 90 days' worth of garbage at 640 tonnes a day that it cannot dispose of through incineration.

It's possible to refit the old incinerator but the cost of 530 million baht has to be approved and much Phuket garbage will mount in the meantime.

Phuket's existing landfills are already stessed and the island will be unable to cope if, as is being predicted, Phuket's daily mountain of trash soars to 1000 tonnes a day.

Phuket's council administrations need to begin working now on a ''Reuse, Reduce Recycle'' campaign across all of Phuket.

Recycling especially needs to become part of Phuket's community thinking. The garbage mountain is out of sight, but not beyond the noses of those who live, work and play downwind.

The money spent on incinerators needs to be matched by a budget to promote the creation of less garbage.

ONLY WITH foresight and spending will an adequate water supply be provided for Phuket's future. Foresight and spending are also needed to reduce Phuket's garbage mountain to a manageable molehill.

With additional reporting from Prasit Tarnsirisin and Rattanawan Vatcharasorat


Comments have been disabled for this article.


"All of Phuket's garbage is transported to Phuket City's Saphan Hin dump.."
I beg to differ. Look along the approach road to the new Kajonkiet campus (shared with the 'Heritage Suites' and 'The Valley 1') the land there is being used as a dumping site with apparently no supervision. Lorries are dumping there every day and at the end of each day the 'recyclers' come along to rip open bags, take what they want and leave the rest strewed along the side of the road.
In addition the road is covered in mud from the lorries making it dusty, unpleasant and dangerous for motorcyclists. I'm sure this is not the only such site on Phuket.

Posted by another steve on July 30, 2012 11:19


So Phukets best and brightest approved a design for an incinerator that requires 25% down time for maintenance. Unbelievable. So unbelievable in fact an inquiry should be held at the highest level to examine the decision making process.

Posted by Soupdragon on July 30, 2012 12:20


"As is so often the case, administrators on Phuket put their hopes in technology rather than attempting to change attitudes and approaches. "

Could not agree more with this statement. In just about every facet of local administration the same attitude is evident.

All the technology in the world will help nothing if there is no genuine will to solve the problems.

Does anyone know what the Thai word for "accountability" is?

Posted by Andrew on July 30, 2012 13:23


and is there anywhere on the island we can dispose of batteries ORBORTOR offfices should have collection points

Posted by michael on July 30, 2012 16:58



rap phit chaawp

to be responsible; to take responsibility

close enough

Posted by sky on July 30, 2012 17:12


I have traveled the road to Nai Yang twice now in two days, from the Ban Koktanode side and saw that one of the big dams just past the Laguna complexes, have lorries dumping sand in to it, reducing its size and making a bidder surface area on which to build? Has this been approved or is again, money better than water?
Also on the road past the Municipal swimming pool in Pasak Koktanode road in Cherng Talay, they big water dam that was built in 2009 has run dry, there is no water in it now? Wow, talk about a water crisis, I think it is a brains and lack of foresight torment.

Posted by Dun on July 30, 2012 22:46


BIS run a recycling centre which accepts batteries. contact kathy coulson

Posted by another steve on July 30, 2012 23:20


The flooding, during the monsoons, is testament that there is far too much construction without any forethought to proper infrastructure.

What they should do is make every new housing project have proper guttering that leads to underground tanks that can filter and make the water potable.

What about home incinerators? That's been discussed before and could produce energy for the home.

Most of these ideas have been banded around by the officials with their 'Feasibility Studies' costing millions and yet still no real progress.

So what will happen? The tourists won't be able to shower or get a drink of water? Will the have to wade through tons of garbage just to get to the beach and lay on more garbage... ummm, with Thais burying garbage under Layan Beach there's more truth to that than fiction.

It'll only get worse simply because lip service and feasibility studies don't solve any problems.

Posted by Graham on July 30, 2012 23:28


The Phuket city Elders were offered FOR FREE a technology that would not use old technology Incineration) plus it would provide power and Bio Ethanol. The Company even went to the expense of making a presentation movie in Thai. So why did the City select a technology that cannot cope. An Audit needs to take place and heads should Roll. But like all things in Phuket ... Live with it.

Posted by Blindeye on August 1, 2012 19:04


I have lived in Phuket for 14's a wonderful place. During that time there has been significant progress in so many things...roads, telephone, shopping centres etc. But sadly the one key area that has shown no improvement whatsoever is that of mains water fact the service has deteriorated significantly. Long periods without supply...the latest lack of supply is now 5 weeks...yes 5 weeks with no mains water at all in my location !!! And yet construction continues. If the supply cannot cope now what will be the situation in another 5 years ?? Meanwhile the drought continues....

Posted by Anonymous on August 5, 2012 10:15


I have a solution: Why not install some CCTV camera to look after the garbage mountain too? LOL

Posted by dave on August 5, 2012 13:19

Thursday June 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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