Governor Maitri Inthusut and Vice-Governor Sommai Preechasilpa, along with Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (OrBorJor) President Paiboon Upatising attended the meeting, presided over by Rassada President Phudit Raksarat, at which plans to deal with polluted water flowing from the Soi Panieng area into Klong Bang Yai were discussed.
The complaints at this time last year came after the dry weather slowed the water in the klong to a trickle, with stagnant pools rotting and sending waves of foul smells into homes and businesses in the Sam Kong area.
Many businesses in the Soi Panieng area are not connected to sewers, so most of their waste finds its way into the canal. This is not a problem for them so much as for those living downstream.
“The housing development, hotels and new houses have their own waste water treatments but the laundries, local people and small foods stores do not have the waste water treatment,” Mayor Phudit told The Phuket News.
Officials are already testing the water and have begun to survey local businesses and residents to pin down the main sources of the sewage.
In May last year the klong was dredged, the banks cleared of vegetation, and the water seeded with effective microbe balls in an attempt to reduce the amount of decay in the canal. But since then little progress appears to have been made.
The cleaning exercise will be repeated. In addition, extra water will be pumped into the klong to increase flow and reduce stagnation.
Rassada has set aside B14 million to build an overflow dam and install a concrete floor to part of the klong to retain sediment that can then be dug out, with “clean” water flowing over the dam and down the klong.
In the long term, Rassada needs to build a wastewater treatment plant. But there are considerable hurdles to overcome. First, the Municipality does not have the land for the plant.
Landowner Wichit na Ranong of the Pearl Group has been approached with a request that he donate the land, Mayor Phudit said, but he has, quite logically, asked that the Municipality first show him plans of what would be built on the land.
Which leads on to the second problem: Rassada does not have an engineer qualified to draw up the plans. A call has gone out to other local authorities in the hope that they have such an engineer they can lend to Rassada.
“Then we have to send it to the Waste Management Organization to design the plant.”
The third problem is a big one. Rassada does not have the money to build the plant. “We have to find more budget to support this by handing all these project to the Or Bor Jor,” Mayor Phudit said.
Asked whether the Municipality could use the law to penalise people dumping garbage or sewage into waterways, he said, “The problem of all this chaos is that we cannot get the local people to stop throwing garbage into the klong.
“We cannot arrest them either. We have to talk it out with them to get them to understand – and it is hard to change people’s habits after such a long time.”
– Additional reporting Suthicha Sirirat