Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkhaosuthirak visited the dam with representatives of the Damrongtham Center – the province’s ombudsman – and local authorities yesterday (April 19).
The dam was built two years ago in order to end water shortages among local residents, but suffered multiple failures just a few months later.
Parts of the ground around the dam collapsed, and soil clogged the draining gate. Also, the size of the water pipes that led out of the dam were too small, and there were no proper connecting pipes to supply water to local people.
Charoen Tewabutra, Chalong sub-district headman (Kamnan), said that the natural mountain water that fed into the dam had been used by local residents, farmers and the Chalong Municipality for years.
“There are at least 25 families that have suffered water shortages because the water supply in this area is now from the dam. When the dam was broken, water could no longer flow and so people had no water,” Kamnan Charoen said.
Yesterday, the team led by V/Gov Somkiet climbed up the steep path to the dam, where they were met by local farmer Juikeng Saetan, 75, who complained that the dam had been constructed in the first place – he would have preferred to have continued to use the natural stream that existed before.
“I have used water from this stream since 1976 to look after my garden. However, after the dam was built, nobody could draw water from the stream any longer.
“So I could at least get some water, I constructed a pipe system that caught the water that leaked from under the dam. But if nobody will fix this dam, then just bring the stream back and spend government money on other, more necessary government projects,” Mr Juikeng said.
At the meeting after the survey, V/Gov Somkiet said that the Damrongtham Center team will check the quality of the dam's construction, and whether it was built correctly in the first place.
He also ordered the Phuket Irrigation Office to start work on five main jobs: fix the floodgate, repair the ground around the dam so that is strong enough for rainy season, plaster the steep area in front of the dam to prevent it collapsing, fix the sand draining gate, and build a wall to stop soil falling into the drainage tube.
V/Gov Somkiet ordered that the budget for the repairs should come from the Royal Irrigation Department and the Phuket provincial budget.