The Impact of Tourism and Urbanization on Water Resources
Phuket, a popular tourist destination in Thailand, has been facing significant water challenges due to the rapid growth of tourism and urbanization. The island experiences annual water shortages of approximately 25.5 million cubic meters, primarily during the dry season. Moreover, the wet season brings flooding issues, as overflowing canals struggle to manage increased water levels.
The lack of proper city planning has led to structures blocking outflows and high tides, exacerbating the flooding problem. Furthermore, the increasing population and influx of tourists has contributed to urban expansion and a reduction in forest cover on the island. Heavy rainfall causes topsoil to erode, further compounding the problem.
Wastewater Management Issues
Another major concern for Phuket is the inadequate management of wastewater. Communities and entertainment venues on the island are discharging wastewater that exceeds treatment capacity, leading to environmental and public health risks.
ONWR’s Efforts to Address Water Problems in Phuket
The Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) is working diligently to address these challenges. ONWR secretary-general Surasri Kidtimonton recently visited Phuket to monitor the progress of water management and forest conservation initiatives in the Kathu district. The ONWR is conducting an area-based study to help Phuket align with its 20-year water management master plan.
The goal is to increase the annual water supply to approximately 60.5 million cubic meters and treat up to 5 million cubic meters of wastewater per year. Additionally, the ONWR recognizes the importance of addressing topsoil damage and restoring forest ecosystems.
Initiatives to Combat Soil Erosion
For the wet season, the initial plan involves constructing check dams in forests to reduce water flow velocity during heavy rain and minimize soil erosion. Local authorities will begin by building a check dam in the Ban Nam Tok Kathu community in Kathu district, aiming to prevent topsoil erosion over an area of 291 rai.
Water Conservation Measures
The ONWR is also proposing water conservation measures for residents and businesses in Phuket. For instance, installing water meters in showers has proven effective in other countries and could help manage water consumption. Surasri Kidtimonton mentioned that the El Nino weather pattern has not yet affected Phuket, as rainfall levels have not decreased so far.
By implementing these strategies and improvements, Phuket can work towards a sustainable solution for its water challenges and continue to thrive as a premier tourist destination.