The notice, issued by the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) at 10:30pm last night (Feb 6), announced that the impending water restrictions to come into effect in Koh Kaew, Rassada and Rawai from tomorrow until the end of the month would not be brought into force.
The impending water rationing in those areas was announced only on Tuesday (Feb 5). (See story here.)
The reason given in the notice by the PWA was that the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office had confirmed that the water reserves in the Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu, the Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn and the Khlong Kratha reservoir in Chalong were enough to last the dry season – until the annual rains return in May.
Somsawat Chaisinsod, Director of Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, this morning told The Phuket News that “The PWA has issued a statement on a misunderstanding of the information that we have given them.”
However, Mr Somsawat confirmed that the statement was “technically accurate”.
“We can supply the water that the PWA has formally requested us to,” Mr Somsawat noted.
Mr Somsawat only two weeks ago warned that the dwindling reserves at Phuket’s three main reservoirs were in dire need of expanding or some form of replenishing considering the rapid expansion of development across the island. (See story here.)
Phuket PWA Branch Manager Graisorn Mahamad told The Phuket News this morning that the move to cancel the water restrictions followed a meeting with Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana and Phuket Irrigation office chief Mr Somsawat yesterday.
That meeting came just hours after The Phuket News interviewed Mr Graisorn about the current water supply crisis yesterday afternoon, where he said that he was already considering rolling out water rationing in the major tourist areas of Patong, Kata, Karon and Chalong.
“The Governor told the PWA to revise its water plan,” Mr Graisorn said today.
“The Governor also agreed to make a formal request to call in the Royal Rainmaking Department,” he added.
“The Governor does not want water rations to affect the people. He ordered the PWA to find another way, that we must find other sources (of water) in order to serve the people,” Mr Graisorn said.
Governor Phakaphong also ordered the PWA to check the water levels at the three main reservoirs and report to him every 10 days, Mr Graisorn noted.
“The Royal Rainmaking Project will help our situation. Our request is to make rain fall in specified areas. We want rain to fall in the Bang Neow Dum, Bang Wad and Khlong Kratha reservoirs,” Mr Graisorn said.
“However, we especially prefer for rain to fall in Kathu because that is where the main Bang Wad reservoir is and the area has many canals, which makes it easier to manage the water supply we have,” he added.
Regarding the consideration of limiting water use in Patong, Kata, Karon, Chalong and Kathu, Mr Graisorn told The Phuket News before his meeting with the Governor yesterday, “I am thinking about additional water restrictions in Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong and Kathu, but I have not yet made any decision on that. I need time to think and plan about managing the water reserves we currently have.
“However, I suggest that people in those areas make plans to collect their own water from after Feb 28,” he warned.
Mr Graisorn confirmed that water rationing brought into force in Cherng Talay last month was in response to information released from the PWA to the Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor).
The actual order announcing the water restrictions, mainly in the tourist-popular Bang Tao area, was issued by Cherng Talay OrBorTor Chief MaAnn Samran.
Although the PWA did not request water rationing, Mr MaAnn was the first on the island to take action and order the water-supply restrictions in order to conserve the dwindling reserves at the Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn, which supplies the Cherng Talay area. (See story here.)
Officials at Cherng Talay OrBorTor confirmed to The Phuket News this morning (Feb 7) that the water rationing measures in that area are still in force.
Mr Graisorn explained that PWA officials were working on acquiring water supply from privately owned sources across the island, but noted that the bureaucratic process may delay the actual supply from those sources by as long as three months.
“PWA officials just went out to estimate the water that could be supplied from six private water sources in areas such as Chalong, Kathu, Patong and Mai Khao, among other areas, but this will take about 120 days to complete all the process and actually supply this water to people on time.
“We can’t use these water sources immediately,” he confirmed.
In the meantime, the PWA will do their best to make the best use of what water reserves they have, though they are already running low, Mr Graisorn explained.
“Right now we have to manage our water reserves as best we can,” he said.
Mr Graisorn estimated that the Bang Wad reservoir is currently just under half-full, containing some 4.5 million cubic meters of its 10mn-plus m3 capacity.
Bang Neow Dum contains about 2.4mn m3 of water, he noted. Only two weeks ago PWA officials confirmed to The Phuket News that the reservoir had no more than 2.3mn m3 of water – the least it has ever contained.
Worse, the Khlong Kratha reservoir in Chalong currently contains about 1.42mn m3 of water of its 4.2mn m3 capacity, Mr Graisorn said.
“I will announce any further updates regarding water supply across Phuket,” Mr Graisorn said.
“People need to know that this is better for them. They have to conserve water these days in order to have enough water to last everyone across the whole island for the dry season,” he said.