Dirty water taints Pattaya beach

PATTAYA, 23 May 2019: Shortcomings in Pattaya’s wastewater treatment capability are showing up on Jomtien beach where the stench of stagnant water rises to the condominium towers lining the 10 km long beach front.

Na Jomtien Beach, as it is officially known, is a popular alternative to main bay Pattaya, but its popularity has a price. Traffic congestion and the stench of polluted wastewater flowing into the sea threaten the bay that is partly under Pattaya City and Sattahip district jurisdiction.

Reports earlier this week posted on the National News Bureau of Thailand website say wastewater management at the bay has gradually improved, while residents say it is only temporary relief. They are convinced the long-standing failure to treat water entering the sea remains a major challenge.

Officials claim the water discharge to the sea is less murky than a week ago when national TV picked up videos posted on Facebook by tourists. However, that not a very reassuring assessment for beach lovers who are keen to take a dip but face the stench of wastewater gushing from hundreds of commercial and residential premises into storm drains that empty directly into the sea.

Residents claim the foul smell remains despite what officials claim and it extends for almost the entire length of the beach swept along by the prevailing wind and currents. According to NBT, deputy district chief of Sattahip, Wanchat Wannapram, said the district office is coordinating with relevant agencies in Pattaya to bring in more pump trucks to remove the wastewater, which will then be treated at the resort’s main water treatment plant.

There have been calls for the district office to close the sluice gates near the bay’s lane 8 to allow for a thorough inspection of the wastewater released directly from buildings to waterways and then to the sea.

Residents near Na Jomtien Beach complained to local media that they frequently witnessed wastewater being discharged directly into the sea, especially when there is heavy rain in the area.

The NBT report quoted them saying the stench from the water as it flows into the bay lasts one to two hours.

When tourists arrived at this particular section of the bay they often take photos and share them on social media. It has resulted in a decline in beach visitors as the smell and possibility that the untreated water is contaminated and hazardous to health drives tourists away from what was once considered Pattaya’s cleanest bay.

Pattaya was the first beach resort town to establish a water treatment system in Thailand, but it did not extend its cover the quieter areas on Na Jomtien bay beyond the city’s boundary with Sattahip.

Since then a building boom on Jomtien turned the bay into Pattaya’s most sought after real estate turf for condominium buyers.

Residents living in the condominiums are now demanding authorities stop discharging wastewater directly into the sea, as it “has an adverse impact on tourism and ultimately on their investments.”

Government officials confirmed that there are plans to raise the water treatment capability from around 20,000 cu metres daily at a small plant on Jomtien to around 63,000 cu metres daily, but it remains a long-term solution that will require connecting commercial and residential buildings for the entire length of the bay and also well inland to be successful. There are also plans to divert untreated water from Jomtien to the Pattaya water treatment system that currently processes 80,00 cu metres, but has a capacity to handle up to 130,000 cu metres daily.