78 of the 101 Walking Street and nearby businesses have been told to install water-treatment systems after being cited for releasing sewage directly into the ocean.
Pattaya Mayor Anan Charoenchasri said at a June 14 meeting that about 1,000 cu. meters of untreated wastewater is being released into the sea daily by restaurants, bars and other commercial ventures on the nightlife strip and in the surrounding area.
In typical Pattaya fashion, the meeting included lots of complaining and finger-pointing, but ended with no other action taken other than a committee being appointed to further study the matter.
The Walking Street businesses at issue are the same ones that were first ordered demolished in 1998 due to missing permits and illegal modifications that encroach on to public land. But having become the economic epicenter of Pattaya, authorities have been unable or unwilling to follow through, allowing the well-connected business owners to appeal and stall any action for 20 years.
Deputy Mayor Apichart Virapal acknowledged that the government has been frustrated in trying to bring the illegal businesses into line with construction regulations, but said that as long as they continue to operate they must comply with other laws, especially environmental ones.
He said a February survey found that only 23 of the 101 businesses surveyed in February have any sort of waste-management system. The rest lack treatment systems and/or grease traps.
Several of the businesses clandestinely just dump raw sewage straight into the water off Pattaya Beach, he said.
He said authorities for years have been trying to get the business owners to hook up to Pattaya’s sewer system. But now, even if they did, the lack of grease traps would gunk up the works at the city’s sewage-treatment plant, which already is overcapacity.
The government, Apichart says, has a policy that people who create problems are responsible for fixing them. The commercial businesses cannot simply dump their wastewater problem on the city. They must install their own treatment systems and stop polluting the environment.