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The star system from 2009, when there were five categories

Beach Pollution Diluted By Color Code

Thursday, October 11, 2012
PHUKET: Authorities have amended a system that shows Phuket's polluted beaches so that at first glance, Phuket's coastline appears to be less polluted.

Three years ago, a five-star system was used to define levels of bacteria found at 23 points along Phuket beaches. Now the worst two categories in that system have vanished, merged into a three-star system.

The effect is to make an offical map of Phuket, showing areas of pollution, appear much better than it would have looked using the old five-star system.

The map is published online by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources as a ''database for coastal environment.''

Charts of Phuket made in 2009 to report on surveys of water quality at the 23 Phuket beach points used five category colors: dark blue (excellent), green (good), light blue (fair), yellow (bad), and red (very bad).

These days, a star map of Phuket shows just three colors being used: dark blue (excellent), green (good), light blue (fair).

Authorities making the surveys admit that the red and yellow stars that might once have been a feature of the water quality charts have been merged into the light blue (fair) category.

The number of light blue stars (fair) has increased lately, especially on the popular tourist destination west coast between Bang Tao and Patong South.

Deterioration of water quality appears to be continuing despite promises by Phuket councils that their focus is now on the environment.

A German television team looked closely at pollution in Karon last year. Whether it's coincidental or due to the economic downturn in Europe, the number of visitors from Germany is down this year.

On the Marine and Coastal Resources department's online site, samples are shown taken from beaches along the entire Andaman Sea coast of Thailand.

The worst area of pollution appears to be at a beach near Ranong, a port with many fishing industry factories.

However, there are beaches on Phuket where the star system indicates pollution levels could be almost as bad. Without red and yellow stars, it's impossible to tell.

Although some of the pollution could be seasonal, a comparison with October 2011 shows a marked deterioration in water quality.

In October 2011, 11 beaches rated ''excellent,'' 10 beaches rated ''good,'' and two beaches rated ''fair.''

In the latest survey, two beaches rated ''excellent,'' 12 rated ''good,'' and nine rated the now all-inclusive ''fair.''

Here are the 23 Phuket beach points and a comparison between how they ranked on the six latest readings in 2009 and now:

1. Tachatchai

2009 excellent excellent excellent good excellent excellent

2012 excellent excellent excellent good excellent excellent

2. Laem Sai

2009 good good excellent excellent fair good

2012 excellent excellent good good good good

3. Ao Para

2009 good good good good good excellent

2012 excellent good good good good excellent

4. Paklok

2009 good good good good good good

2012 fair excellent fair good fair good

5. Cape Yamu

2009 excellent good good good excellent good

2012 excellent excellent excellent good good good

6. Laem Hin

2009 good fair excellent good good excellent

2012 good good good good good fair

7. Koh Sireh

2009 excellent good excellent good good fair

2012 good excellent good good good good

8. Bang Yai

2009 good fair good good good good

2012 good good fair good fair fair

9. Rawai

2009 good good excellent good excellent good

2012 good excellent excellent good good good

10. Nai Yang

2009 good excellent excellent good good excellent

2012 good excellent good good excellent good

11. Bang Tao North

2009 good good good good good good

2012 excellent excellent excellent good fair good

12. Bang Tao South

2009 excellent excellent excellent excellent good good

2012 good excellent excellent good good fair

13. Kamala North

2009 excellent good good excellent good good

2012 excellent excellent excellent good good fair

14. Kamala South

2009 fair fair good good good excellent

2012 fair good good good fair fair

15. Patong North

2009 excellent good excellent excellent excellent good

2012 excellent excellent good good good fair

16. Patong Central

2009 good excellent excellent excellent fair excellent

2012 good excellent excellent good good fair

17. Patong South

2009 good excellent excellent excellent fair excellent

2012 good excellent good good good fair

18. Karon North

2009 good excellent excellent excellent excellent good

2012 excellent excellent excellent good good good

19. Karon Central

2009 good excellent excellent excellent good excellent

2012 excellent excellent excellent excellent good excellent

20. Karon South

2009 fair good good good good good

2012 good excellent excellent good good good

21. Kata North

2009 excellent good excellent excellent good excellent

2012 excellent excellent good excellent good fair

22. Kata South

2009 excellent excellent excellent excellent excellent good

2012 good excellent excellent excellent excellent good

23. Nai Harn

2009 excellent good excellent good excellent fair

2012 excellent excellent excellent good excellent good

Details of the actual bacteria figures do not appear to be as readily available as they were in 2009.

An introduction online with the charts makes the point that construction and development along the west coast of Phuket especially has increased run-off and sediment.

The closing or narrowing of canals has also made beaches on the west coast more polluted.

However, Phuket's east coast is not immune from obvious signs of pollution. Phuketwan recently came across a Thai cooking school where human waste flowed directly via a blue pipe into the sea.

The following email exchange took place:

Phuketwan: Your school has been named as a business that pumps black polluted water directly into the sea via the beach. Do you plan to do anything about this? As you know, Phuket's future as a tourist destination depends on clean food, clean beaches and clean tourism.

Cooking school: Thank you very much for your email. We never ignore that and we are really understand that Phuket is tourist destination but we have tried many way to resolve this problem and the water that drain to the sea is the water that already passed our waste entrap system. We still find out the better way so do you have any recontamination???

Phuketwan: I saw at the weekend how your waste water turned black when it entered the sea. Children were playing just a short distance away. The water stinks. I think you have to find a way to make sure your water does not contaminate the public beach, where children swim.
As a responsible business person with the desire to improve Phuket, you have to make sure your waste does not enter the beach area, or the sea. Perhaps the local council can help. If not, you really must do something to prevent children falling sick. The reputation of your business will be improved if you fix your problem.

Cooking school: We will try our best to make it better.

Phuketwan believes that commercial interests are leading to the rapid deterioration of Phuket's wonderful beaches and that the only answer is the creation of a single Phuket Beach Authority to care for them all.

Money from commercial transactions along the foreshore can then be channeled into beach maintenance and protection for the first time.

Latest Map of Phuket's Beach Pollution

More 'Light Blue' on West Coast
A REVISED system cuts out the ''bad'' yellow and the ''very bad'' red stars to make the map of Phuket look all blue and green.
http://www.coastaldatabase.com/index.php?module=InnoRSSNews&func=view&ctrl=RSSNews&lang=eng&id=44/

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

gravatar

If the authorities try to limit access to precise pollution related data, it will only provoke someone to collect and examine water samples themselves, much like the German TV crew did.

As a consequence local authorities will once again be caught in cover-up attempts and the actual damage of the real readings will be magnified.

Secrecy and cover-up does not work when addressing a western clientel, nor does it reflect aspirations to comply with international standards that Phuket seems so keen on promoting lately.

I'm thankful we have alert media highlighting these issues.

Posted by Andrew on October 11, 2012 19:09

gravatar

What a shame - rather than properly deal with an issue that is a tourist priority, if not prerequisite, when visiting Phuket - just move the goalposts.

You can gild a turd, but it's still a turd. Literally, in this case.

Posted by barry on October 11, 2012 19:32

gravatar

So, why didn't you offer the cooking school any recommendations? It seems (genuine or not), that they were asking for advice on the subject. Perhaps they might have even implemented one of your suggestions. Perhaps not. But at least you would have put the ball in their court. Rather, instead of offering any constructive criticism, your last reply reeks of the armchair warriors' sentiments that "someone should do something about it." Phuketwan, which seems to have done a lot of good research on the issue (unlike myself, admittedly), would surely have several helpful ideas to offer. Why not try to steer them in the right direction?

Posted by concerned in karon on October 12, 2012 11:42

Editor Comment:

''Perhaps the local council can help. If not, you really must do something to prevent children falling sick.''

We are advocates, not activists, concerned in karon. As usual you focus on Phuketwan and overlook the main issue.


Monday May 20, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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