However, at the same time Governor Phakaphong also ordered local administration organisations to make sure that residents in their respective areas were provided water by using the local administration’s own budgets.
“All local administrative organisations must use their own plans to solve the drought by yourself,” Phuket Governor Phakaphong said at the press conference, held at the Grand Supicha City Hotel on Narisorn Rd, located barely 200 metres from Phuket Provincial Hall.
“If there are any problems with this, they must report it to the Phuket Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office and the Phuket Provincial Administration Office (PPAO, or OrBorJor) every time,” he said.
“Local government organisations must distribute water to people in their own areas. There must not be any cases of grievances on such issues anymore (sic),” he ordered.
“Meanwhile, Vice Governors are searching and making deals with owners of private water sources in the three districts. This is to be our backup plan if the annual rains still do not come (in time).
“We are able to manage the water so there is enough for the people,” Governor Phakaphong assured.
Governor Phakaphong expressed his concern for the image of the ongoing water shortages being presented in the media.
“If media presents information that is beyond the facts, then that can lead to our tourism image being affected. It does not look good, so we are willing to explain and extend the information available,” he added.
ISLAND ALREADY SERVED EMERGENCY WATER SUPPLY
However, also present for the press conference this morning were Somsawat Chaisinsorn, Director of Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, and Graisorn Mahamad, Chief of the Phuket office of the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA).
Mr Graisorn has already for more than a month openly admitted that the volume of water being released from the main reservoirs each day is being reduced in order to conserve water.
Meanwhile, Mr Somsawat on April 4 urged people to “save what water they can” as the water levels at the island’s three main reservoirs hit record lows (See story here.)
Governor Phakaphong’s assurances this morning also follow a raft of emergency water supplies being deployed across the island.
See previous reports, here:
• Free emergency water now deployed across Phuket (click here.)
• Patong starts deploying free emergency water for residents (click here.)
• Rawai Municipality starts providing free emergency water (click here.)
• Phuket Governor ‘urges’ action to save water ‘in case of drought’ (click here.)
To support his assurances today, Governor Phakaphong had Mr Somsawat present at the press conference to explain to the media that Phuket’s three main reservoirs – again – had more water than had been previously reported just days earlier.
Mr Somsawat told the press this morning that the Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu currently contains an estimated 1.09 million cubic meters of its 10mn-plus m3 capacity.
The Bang Neow Dum reservoir in Srisoonthorn, which also serves much of the Cherng Talay area, contains about 0.98mn m3 of water, and the Khlong Kratha reservoir contains about 1.11mn m3 of water of its 4.2mn m3 capacity, he said.
The figures given for all three reservoirs were more than those given only last Thursday (Apr 18), when Mr Somsawat confirmed that Bang Wad contained 0.94mn m3 of water, that Bang Neow Dum contained about 0.91mn m3 of water and that the Khlong Kratha reservoir contained about 0.97mn m3 of water.
No reason for the elevated figures were given this morning, though both Mr Somsawat and Mr Graisorn have been consistently open with The Phuket News in providing updates and explanations to the ongoing water-shortage situation.
Of note, the figures given today correlate with the total volume of water at each reservoir given by Mr Somsawat to The Phuket News – but including the water deemed by the PPIO as unfit to use as it is located at the murky depths of the reservoirs.
Mr Somsawat so far has today has been unavailable to answer questions from The Phuket News clarify this issue.
Today also marked the second time in less than a week that Phuket has been told that there is more water available than previously explained.
On Apr 12, Mr Somsawat reported that the reservoir water levels at the time were enough to support residents across the island for another 33 days.
Six days later, Mr Somsawat said there was enough water for 39 days, starting from April 18, despite recognising that reservoir water levels were slowly but consistently falling.
The increase in how long the water supply was expected to last was put down to “using different calculations”.
At that time, Mr Somsawat also noted that what recent rain Phuket has experienced has had little effect on the reservoirs. (See story here.)
Phuket Governor Phakaphong this morning was at pains to repeat his message that Phuket is not suffering a drought.
“I confirm that Phuket has enough water, but local administration organisations and municipalities must manage their budgets to provide water to people from private water sources,” he said.
“I have heard inaccurate information. Only the Phuket Governor can declare whether or not we are in a crisis situation. Only after that is done can the provincial administration step in to take steps to resolve the water shortage situation,” Governor Phakaphong explained.
“Saying that Phuket is suffering a drought is not accurate information to people. It is a misunderstanding,” he said.
Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Phuket Provincial office of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM-Phuket), noted that the Phuket Provincial Office has access to an emergency budget of B20 million to to provide relief in a disaster situation.
“However, the situation must officially be declared a disaster before we can use those funds,” he said.
Meanhwile, Win Sitthichane, Chief of the Department of Local Administration Phuket office operating directly under the Ministry of Interior, said “There is no need to declare Phuket province is in a drought crisis. Local administrations can use their own emergency budgets first.
“Each local administration has B500,000 to use to provide water from private water sources. They have enough under this budget to buy water without declaring Phuket is officially in a drought crisis.”