Thai canal full of dirty water, survey finds

THAILAND - The quality of water in the Premprachakorn canal - one of Bangkok's main drainage channels - has deteriorated badly, the Environmental Quality Promotion Department has reported.

Researchers from the department's environmental training and research centre conducted a random test recently to study water in the canal in Don Muang district, which leads directly into the Chao Phraya River. Some 8,000 people live near it.

The research team found water quality in the canal was in crisis as the dissolved oxygen (DO) level measured zero milligrams per litre. The standard measurement of DO should not be below 2 mg per litre.

The study also found water in the canal was contaminated with a high level of coliform bacteria, notably E-coli which measured from 30,000 to 60,000 units per milligram per litre. The standard for E-coli in water should not exceed 200 units/mg/per litre.

"This high level of E-coli could come from faecal matter and garbage released into the canal," the department's director-general Kasemsan Jinnwaso said during his study of the canal's water last Friday.

"Such a large amount of E-coli in the canal could cause diarrhoea and other illness among people living near its banks," he said.

Kasemsan said his department planned to improve the quality of water by using effective micro-organism (EM) mudballs to eliminate the coliform bacteria and E-coli in the canal before next season's flooding.

He also expressed concern over the large amount of garbage, debris and permanent construction, such as residential homes, that has made the canal shallower and could cause drainage problems over the next four months.

"The department will ask for the cooperation from people living along the canal to help the agency eliminate all garbage and restore the canal," Kasemsan said.

Puttachart Sangkarnsab, 54, who has lived by Premprachakorn canal for more 50 years, said the deterioration in water quality had been caused by the growth of residential areas near the canal and rise in population in recent years.

A survey of the canal by the department, from Don Muang District office to Wat Don Muang, seems to back her comments. The team found a high number of residents' houses along the canal, which had made narrow. It was just 10m wide and 150cm deep in some parts - which would make drainage in the rainy season difficult.