The news comes following confirmation that the project to install a pipeline from Phang Nga to supply tap water to the island has been delayed, despite being approved by Cabinet in September last year.
Also, yet to be approved are six smaller projects aimed at being stop-gap measures to help boost Phuket’s water-supply ability in the short term.
Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) Chief Graisorn Mahamad told The Phuket News that Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu as of Monday (Aug 17) contained 3.053 million cubic metres of water, or 29.9%, of its 10.2mn-plus m3 capacity.
Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn, Thalang, currently contains 2.513mn m3 of water, or about 34.9% of its 7.2mn m3 capacity, he said.
Meanwhile, the Klong Kratha reservoir in Chalong contains 1.082mn m3, or 25% of its 4.32mn-plus m3 capacity, he added.
However, Mr Graisorn pointed out that now the island’s weather has returned to sporadic showers instead of consistent downpours, the total daily water usage from the reservoirs of 0.042mn m3 already outpaces the 0.032mn m3 of rainfall estimated to be flowing into the reservoirs.
“This is why the Phang Nga pipeline is so important, and construction was supposed to have started already,” Mr Graisorn said.
“We will need this water-supply pipeline from Phang Nga to supply water in the long term, and construction needs to start because it will take a long time to complete,” he added.
“This project is the ‘Number One’ way to help Phuket out of its water supply problem. This project is crucial because the demand for water supply in Phuket will increase to 98mn m3 per year,” he said.
Mr Graisorn explained that he had yet to be informed of a clear reason why the project had not yet begun.
“I have heard that the project has been postponed, and that it might begin with a budget in 2021. But I don’t know when the budget will come. I have not heard with confidence their exact plan to send money,” he said.
Mr Graisorn pointed out that since arriving on the island in June, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew had already twice presented to Cabinet and to the Office of the Natural Water Resources (ONWR) Phuket’s water problems and proposed seven projects, including the Phang Nga pipeline, to help avoid another water crisis.
“The Cabinet has apparently agreed with the Phang Nga pipeline project, as they already know that Phuket people are in need of reliable water supply, but no explanation has come about the budget needed to make sure the project can go ahead,” he added.
“I understand the Phang Nga pipeline project was presented to cost about B3.5 billion and it was approved by Cabinet on Sept 17 last year. The project was supposed to start, but nothing has happened.
“They [Cabinet] might have another important issue to deal with at this time,” Mr Graisorn admitted.
However, he added, “But we must keep pushing as much as we can to start this project.”
Mr Graisorn pointed out that of the seven projects, the PWA was involved in only one: the Phang Nga pipeline.
The other six projects are under the responsibility of other government bodies and were presented to the Office of the National Water Resources, with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon present to hear in person, he added.
Three of the projects are under the responsibility of the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office (PPIO), two are to be carried out as Phuket City Municipality projects, and one is to be carried out by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (PPAO, or OrBorJor).
Issara Anukul, of the PPIO’s Water Management Division, explained, “All six projects have been presented to the Cabinet, but they have not yet been approved.”
Mr Issara described the six smaller projects as follows:
- B40mn to install additional water pumps at Bang Wad reservoir to increase supply by about 10-14mn m3 per year
- B170mn to expand the capacity of Bang Neow Dum reservoir and boost its supply by about 0.50mn m3 per year
- B610mn to install water pumps to feed raw water from Ban Khok Tanode to Bang Neow Dum reservoir to increase water supply by 10mn m3 per year
- B58mn to increase water supply from wastewater sources by 0.60mn m3 per year
- B15mn to increase water supply at the desalination by 6mn m3 per year
- B40 million to increase water supply ability along the Phuket Bay coastal area
“All six projects are still in the presentation process. They have not been approved or agreed to by the Cabinet,” Mr Issara said.
Regardless, Mr Graisorn, whose office is responsible for delivering the water to those in need, noted, “even with these smaller projects, the water they supply won’t be enough. Phuket will need more water anyway.”