A tourist forwarded her concerns to The Phuket News yesterday (Sept 25), pointing out that the brown water was spotted “halfway down the beach, just in (the) SWIM HERE signs”.
“The bubbles are yellow like urine,” the tourist noted. “I have heard there are underground sewage pipes that just pump into the sea. I come from Australia (we are not ignorant about beaches) that's quite a health risk…
“I wouldn’t swim there if you paid me,” she said.
However, Wanchai Saetan, Chief of Karon Municipality Public Works, today told The Phuket News, “We have been aware of the black water (sic) at Kata beach for days now, but it is not from untreated wastewater.
“We have checked again this morning (Sept 26) and it is dirty water from the ocean, such as old engine oil dumped overboard from boats, that has been pushed on shore by the wind and the waves.
“This happens every year, and everyone knows about it. It returns to Kata Beach every year, just before the (tourism) high season,” he said.
Mr Wanchai said that much progress had been made in coping with the huge increase in volume of wastewater needing treatment before it is released into the sea, brought on by the rapid rate of development along Phuket’s southwest coast in recent years.
“This black water does not come from hotels or people’s homes; and almost all hotels in our area use their own wastewater-treatment plants,” he said.
“The Division of Public Works also inspects hotels in Kata and Karon, and our most recent inspections were carried out just last three weeks ago with wastewater experts from Phuket Rajabhat University,” Chief Wanchai added.
As recently as November last year, Kata public works officials scrambled to stem black wastewater from spilling across Kata Beach after heavy rain overloaded the volume of wastewater to be treated as the local sewage system uses the same drains that handle excess rainwater runoff. (See story here.)
Black water streaming across Kata Beach made international headlines when a German documentary crew released footage of two Phuket hotels releasing wastewater into the ocean in the early hours one morning in June 2011. (See story here.)