Wastewater pouring onto Phuket beaches comes under fire, again

Officials are hoping to prevent more untreated wastewater from pouring onto Bang Tao Beach

Following an outbreak of criticism online in response to a video showing wastewater pouring onto Bang Tao Beach, officials inspected the recently-installed wastewater system on 11 May and collected water samples to test for contaminants.

The initial investigation into the complaints, which included the water spilling onto the beach carrying a foul smell, was carried out by officers from the Damrongtham Center (Ombudsman’s Office), Thalang District Office and Cherng Talay Tambon Administration Organisation (OrBorTor) as well as local village headmen and local residents.

Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana inspected the facilities in person, and ordered for urgent steps to be taken to prevent any more wastewater pouring onto the beach.

“This problem affects the beautiful image of our tourist city. We need to urgently find a way to solve this problem to alleviate the suffering of the people who are being affected by the pollution,” he said.

After decades of foul untreated wastewater pouring onto Bang Tao and Surin beaches, Cherng Talay OrBorTor made history in March this year with the first two wastewater treatment plants in the area brought online under a project costing B355 million (SGD 15 million).

However, even Cherng Talay OrBorTor Chief MaAnn Samran admitted to The Phuket News that the wastewater treatment plants will only be as effective as the sewer network that delivers the untreated wastewater to them.

Splash Beach Club
Sewers installed in Cherng Talay Moo 2 and Moo 5 will feed the Bang Tao station, while the waste pipes laid throughout Moo 3 will feed the Surin Beach plant. Other areas where sewers are still being installed will still result in untreated wastewater finding its way into the canal and onto the beach, he said.

Following in Cherng Talay’s footsteps, the Kamala OrBorTor also has its first wastewater treatment plant currently under construction while struggling to deal with foul black wastewater pouring onto the beach, and into the beach water where tourists swim there.

Recognised by officials there is the fact that heavy rains result in a much larger volume of water to be treated, meaning any excess runoff of untreated wastewater will continue to flow onto the beach as it has always done. The move to install wastewater treatment plants is aimed at bringing the pollution of Phuket’s main beaches to an end.

Meanwhile, water samples have been collected from an outflow pipe onto Bang Tao Beach. Officials expected to have the results on comprehensive tests on those water samples in five to seven days.