The order came at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall this morning to discuss the major issues threatening Phuket’s economic viability, mainly in light of sustainable tourism.
At the meeting, attended by a host of local government office chiefs and other officials, was Assoc Prof Dr Pun Thongchunum, Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Environment at the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket Campus
Dr Pun explained that corals at Tri Trang Beach had suffered after being awash with heavily contaminated wastewater that had been discharged from Pak Bang Canal, at the southern end of Patong Beach, in February this year. (See stories here, here and here.)
A team of experts were already monitoring the corals, and by early March Dr Vipawee Dummee, a lecturer at the PSU Phuket’s Faculty of Technology and Environment, expressed her grave concern that the corals were dying. (See story here.)
“The corals were greatly affected after being blanketed by sludge on Feb 13 as they were not getting enough sunlight,” Dr Pun said.
The corals started shrinking and turning from brown to greyish green, brownish grey and showing lesions where polyps were dying, he explained.
“However, corals can survive in such conditions for up to about two months. We have now found that the corals have now recovered,” he said.
Dr Pun noted that his team were not ready to blame the entire incident on the deluge of wastewater flowing into Patong Bay, which today – five months later – has yet to be confirmed by officials as no longer happening.
“We cannot conclude that the lesions were caused entirely by the wastewater because there were not that many of them. It could have just happened by nature,” Dr Pun said.
Dr Pun also noted that the extensive ongoing study on the direct impact of polluted water on the corals at Tri Trang Beach was the first of its kind in the country.
Governor Norraphat said, “The problem of water pollution is a very worrisome situation. The problem has intensified continuously every year, so all people from the relevant government offices must jointly solve the problem quickly, which will present Phuket as beautiful and clean tourism destination.”