Mr Songsak was on the island to lead a delegation to inspect the main reservoirs at Bang Wad in Kathu and the and the Khlong Kratha reservoir in Chalong yesterday (Nov 14).
He also led an inspection of the Phuket branch of the Provincial Waterworks Authority main office, also located near the Bang Wad reservoir, to be updated on the current status of the water supply system feeding homes and businesses on the island.
Mr Songsak noted that the country reopening to receiving tourists under the new schemes launched on Nov 1 will have an impact on Phuket’s water reserves.
However, he told the press yesterday, “The total volume of water from all three sources [including the Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn] is approximately 22 million cubic metres.
“It’s an exciting number, because although the overall picture of Phuket uses about 36 million cubic meters of water per year, the amount of water in the three reservoirs is now considered to be sufficient to meet the demand for water in the four months of the dry season, from February to May,” he said.
“And now that the country has opened [to tourists], it is believed that Phuket will be a tourist destination with a large number of tourists, and the service of the water supply will certainly not be a problem,” Mr Songsak assured.
“And please believe that during the coming drought, Phuket will definitely not suffer from water shortages,” he added.
Mr Songsak reminded the press of the project to supplement Phuket’s water supply with the construction of a pipeline from a reservoir in Phang Nga that has been dedicated to supporting Phuket’s water needs, “ensuring that the government has given priority to water management, and trust in the supervision and budget allocation to drive growth in all sectors, especially the tourism sector.”
Mr Songsak’s assurances comes as work on the pipeline from Phang Nga continues, though a detailed update has not been presented to the public for over a year. At last report work on the pipeline from the reservoir had stalled.
In May last year Phuket PWA Chief Graisorn Mahamad confirmed that rains had helped replenish the island’s main reservoirs. “Recently, there has been more rain in Phuket, but there is still not much water in the reservoirs,” he said.
However, he added, “The water situation has been gradually improving, but the situation is still considered ‘critical’.”
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew in July last year attended a meeting with a Cabinet committee to help gain momentum in resolving Phuket’s crippling water-supply situation.
By November last year, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan at a meeting in Phuket ordered the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) to investigate and expedite projects to resolve Phuket’s recurring water shortage crisis, including to instigate progress in the much-delayed mains supply pipeline from Phang Nga.
However, by that time the weather itself brought a reprieve. Heavy rains helped to replenish the island’s three main reservoirs to healthy levels, meaning island residents were spared water shortages for the rest of the year.
The lack of tourists and heavy rains this year have ensured island residents were not left without running water this year.
At the height of Phuket’s water crisis, the Royal Thai Army dispatched trucks from other provinces throughout Southern Thailand to deliver water to hard-struck communities across Phuket.
Large water tanks were installed and repeatedly refilled in affected communities, where residents in areas such as along Soi Kingkaew in Rassada were forced to carry water back to their homes by hand for months.