New pipelines could bring relief to water starved South Pattaya neighborhoods

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The Provincial Waterworks Authority says a new pipeline set to come online soon should reduce water shortages faced by South Pattaya residents.

The pipe connecting the Mabprachan Reservoir with the Chaknok water-processing station is in the final inspection stages and will become yet another source of water for the thirsty city.

The PWA admits that residents and businesses on Thepprasit Road, and sois Chaiyapruek, Wat Bunkanchanaram, and Yansangwararam in South Pattaya have faced sporadic water shortages, due both to broken pipes and geography.

Residents there, however, say the problem has been more chronic than sporadic.

Piyada Pleedsai, who operates a restaurant opposite the Mae Loe Market, complained to the Pattaya Mail about repeated outages lasting for days. She said the increasing cost of buying water has been a burden on her and her neighbors.

“Almost every month the water stops,” the 34-year-old said. “Some months it is four days in a row or even an entire week. Some months there is no water for two weeks.”

The frequency of the outages has incited conspiracy stories around the neighborhood, with many believing water-truck operators are shutting down pipes so they can sell higher-priced water. She said prices for the water service has increased 50 percent in the past year and vendors charge her 500 baht extra just to pump water to a tank on her roof.

“This has been going on for a year and nothing has changed,” Piyada said. “The PWA needs to understand the difficulties we face and listen to our problems. Whenever I call them, no one makes any effort to solve the problem.”

PWA General Manager Araya Ngamwongwan disagreed, saying the utility is not only aware of the problems, but has been spending millions of baht to fix it.

The main problem, he said, lies with the East Water Co., which supplies much of Pattaya’s water. It operates 30-kilometer-long pipelines that are more than 30 years old and frequently break. While the utility tries to repair broken main lines within four hours, it takes time to re-pressurize the pipeline and get the water moving again.

The worst-affected South Pattaya neighborhoods not only lie at the end of the pipeline – meaning larger customers before them often take much of the available supply – but they also are located at higher elevation, making water distribution more difficult. The utility can’t increase pressure, it claims, because the old pipes cannot take it.

PWA officials said they’ve told Pattaya City Hall that new pipelines should be laid, but budget shortfalls have prevented any substantive work from ensuing. Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai has requested 2 billion baht for a pipe connecting Mabprachan with the Huay Khao Noi and Mabwaisom reservoirs, but no vote has been set on the request.

Meanwhile, the PWA is moving forward with new pipes from Mabprachan to neighborhoods in East Pattaya. In all, the utility is spending 800 million baht to bring hard water from five sources to Mabprachan, Pattaya’s main holding tank.

PWA officials urge anyone facing water shortages to contact the utility immediately. Araya said people can also call him directly at 081-876-3563.