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Brown water swirls in swim zone at Phuket’s Kata Beach

PHUKET: Local officials have palmed off concerns that brown water in the surf at Kata Beach may be from untreated wastewater running into the bay, and instead claim that the unsightly water is a regular phenomenon brought on each year by the southwest monsoon.

pollution, tourism,

Tanyaluk Sakoot

Monday 26 September 2016, 05:15PM

The brown water was spotted 'halfway down the beach, just in (the) SWIM HERE signs'. Photo: Courtesy of a 'The Phuket News' reader
The brown water was spotted 'halfway down the beach, just in (the) SWIM HERE signs'. Photo: Courtesy of a 'The Phuket News' reader

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.

Laguna Phuket Marathon 2017

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.)



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Alex64 | 27 September 2016 - 12:59:33

I went for  a surf there this morning. Certainly looked/smelled like used motor oil, mostly in front of the Club Med. Awful amount of litter on the beach too. Blech!

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Ed Sanders | 27 September 2016 - 12:04:39

More empty lip service by Mr Wanchai..."no pobpem...not Thai fault".  As this place continues its race to the bottom, issue like this carry a significant negative message around the world, yet Thai officials continue to focus on bringing more people here. He says hotels have their own waste treatment...they don't...and does all this waste just disappear???, or once it is pumped out (if ever), where do they take it?  Poorly designed and never maintained septic systems have saturated the groundwater system.  Most hotels and housing development along the cost discharge their filth into the sea on a daily basis, just as they have done for ever, just as was brought to the surface by the Germans in 2011.  Nothing is different...just more mismanagement on a larger scale.  The day will come when Thais will be sitting around on their trash-clogged beaches and their brown water bays, wondering what happened.  They deserve everything coming their way.

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Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 10:21:51

bigasail33:  In many countries are by law international protocols working about tank cleaning of ships.
When a tanker arrives with clean tanks in a port of call ( for loading), the Captain has to provide the authorities with a certificate to prove in which port he cleaned the thanks and left his slop.
Tank cleaning at sea is a serious international crime these days.
I don't know or Thailand did sign/participate in this International Environment ruling.

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bigasail33 | 26 September 2016 - 18:00:18

Since I am out from the merchant marin,perhaps a Tanker cleaned his Tanks and this time of the year oil could easy drift as far a Phuket.  Horst

Tanks and pump it in the sea with this moo

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