Business leaders call Pattaya officials on carpet over sewage woes

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Water samples showed Pattaya Bay was 70 percent over the threshold for water that is considered safe to swim in.
Water samples showed Pattaya Bay was 70 percent over the threshold for water that is considered safe to swim in.

PATTAYA – Business leaders demanded an explanation for a sewage overflow that contaminated Pattaya Beach in July and what measures Pattaya officials are taking to prevent a reoccurrence.

Pattaya Business & Tourism Association Vice President Rattanachai Sutidechanai – a former city councilman – called current council members, city hall department chief and police to the group’s Aug. 22 meeting at the Grand Sole Hotel to discuss sewage management.

He said the meeting was called following heavy rain July 11-12 that flooded Pattaya Beach with black, noxious sewage, fouling the beach and polluting the water for a week.

Sompop Wandee, water quality manager for the Engineering Department, explained that the main pump for the city’s primary sewage treatment plant had broken down and repairs were hampered by continuing storm runoff.

Workers fired up a backup pump, Sompop said, but it was only capable of pumping 5,000 cu. meters an hour, far less than was surging through the pipelines.

He said the main pump is now repaired and the Sanitation Department is cleaning out the drainage pipes.

By then, however, the damage was done. Water samples taken after the storm showed Pattaya Bay was 70 percent over the threshold for water that is considered safe to swim in.

Sompop noted that Pattaya’s Soi Nongyai sewage treatment plant is now 17 years old and needs constant repair. Even when fully operational it can treat only 65,000 cu. meters of water a day. A newer plan on Soi Wat Boonkanjanaram can process an additional 43,000 cu. meters, but is not connected fully to Pattaya’s drainage systems, meaning it isn’t even working at capacity.

Pattaya officials told the business leaders that the city council is aware of the urgent need for upgrades and has requested 458 million baht from the government under the Eastern Economic Corridor initiative to both increase complete repairs and increase plant capacity.

However, those funds have not been approved and there is no timetable for when they will be.