Worse, water is either pumped out of the reservoirs as fast as it arrives or doesn’t even make it to the reserves as water channels that flow into the reserves are sourced to directly feed water mains serving houses and businesses across the island.
As the government agency responsible for ensuring that water reserves are adequate for the island’s needs, the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office (PPIO) is seriously concerned.
PPIO Chief Somsawat Chaisinsod on Tuesday (July 9) declined to comment, directing The Phuket News to senior PPIO official Isara Anukul to explain the situation.
“The water levels in the main three reservoirs now is worrying. There is only enough water for about month if we do not have substantial rain,” he said.
Bang Wad reservoir in Kathu currently has 0.95 million cubic meters of water of its 10.2mn m3 capacity. Of that 0.27mn m3 is “dead storage”, or water that cannot be used as it lays at the bottom of the lake, leaving 0.68mn m3 of usable water in the reservoir.
By PPIO estimates, at current usage rates that is enough to last just 25 days, he added.
In comparison, on April 30 at the height of the water crisis earlier this year – with the Army and local government agencies deploying emergency water supplies across the island – Bang Wad had actually more water than it does now. On that day, Bang Wad had 0.82mn m3 of water, calculated as enough to last 32 days at that time – while “reduced water pressure” water restrictions were in force.
Those same water restrictions are not in effect now.
Likewise, Bang Neow Dam in Srisoonthorn, serving Cherng Talay and other nearby areas, currently contains about 0.65mn m3 of water of its 7.2mn m3 capacity, with 0.11mn m3 of “dead storage”, leaving just 0.54mn m3 of usable water, Mr Isara explained.
Again, at current usage rates, that is enough to last 33 days. On April 30, Bang Neow had more water than it does now: 0.76mn m3, enough for 48 days.
The Klong Kratha reservoir in Chalong is a different story. It currently contains about about 1.2mn m3 of water of its 4.2mn m3 capacity – enough for 148 days, as much of the southern end of the island was developed without access to mains water, leaving residents and businesses mostly dependent on well water and water trucks for supply.
On April 30, Klong Kratha contained 0.97mn m3 of water, enough for about 139 days at the restricted water-usage rates.
Explaining the lack of water flowing into Bang Wad, Mr Isara said, “Right now we have stopped directing water from Klong Bangyai to refill the reservoir as the PWA [Phuket Waterworks Authority, the local government office responsible for distributing public water supply] needs it in order to supply people across the island. We have agreed to let them do so.”
Phuket PWA Branch Manager Graisorn Mahamad is also very concerned.
“Right now Bang Wad reservoir is worrying me,” he said.
“There are a lot of factors affecting the level of water in Bang Wad. There has been little rainfall flowing into it, and the water we are intercepting [from Bangyai Canal] before it gets there is needed because people’s demand for water keeps increasing every year,” he added.
Questioned about the need to use the water from Bangyai Canal instead of letting it replenish the Bang Wad reservoir, Mr Graisorn said, “We have no choice right now. We don’t have much water in Bang Wad.”
“We have enough water for about a month,” Mr Graisorn confirmed, but remained confident that water supply will continue to as needed as his office scrambles to secure contracts with owners of private water sources to supplement what little supply the government reservoirs have.
However, he added, “If this [securing private water supply] doesn’t happen in time, I will have to decrease the water pressure in order to make reserves last.”
MONEY ON TAP
The PWA has requested a budget of B227.34 million to splash out on paying private water suppliers, Mr Graisorn confirmed.
One private water-source owner is to be paid B94.5mn to supply 3,680m3 of water per day over a five-year contract to supplement water supply to areas usually served by the Bang Wad and Klong Kata reservoirs, he said.
One private water source owner is to be paid B9.34mn to supply 4,000m3 of water per day for 150 days to the same areas, he added.
The northwest coastal area will require more, Mr Graisorn confirmed.
“B109.3mn will be paid to the owner of a private water source near the Bangjo pump station, to supply 4,255m3 of water per day. This project is a five-year contract,” he said.
“B6.2mn has been allocated to secure 200,000m3 of water from a private source also near the Bangjo pump station, but the details of that contract have not been confirmed yet,” Mr Graisorn added.
A further B8mn is to pay for 2,400m3 of water per day from Pru Jampa to also serve areas usually supplied by the Bangjo pump station, he said.