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Water Pollution in Bangkok

Water Pollution in Bangkok

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Published by nethmeem
An essay describing the causes effects and implications of water pollution in Bangkok.

An essay describing the causes effects and implications of water pollution in Bangkok.

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Published by: nethmeem on Jan 17, 2010
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11/18/2012

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Water pollution in Bangkok: Its significance, potential solutions and their outcomes
With more then 10 million residents, Bangkok is the largest urban area and primate city of Thailand. However, today, the city that was once called The Venice of the East’ has been plagued,literally with a dilemma that could potentially doom Bangkok within the next ten years or so: water  pollution. Bangkok’s problem of water pollution has depended on and been a product of variousaspects, some of them being the rising population and domestic waste, growth of tourism and industrialwaste, etc. A study developed in 1988 by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) showsthat domestic waste accounts for 75% of the total wastewater generated in Bangkok, while industrialsources accounted for the remaining 25% (Hinkado). Either way, this issue has several consequencesin aspects of economy, society and also politics, a few of them being its effects on tourism, aquatic lifeand also its impacts on Buddhist and other religious temples, etc. However, among these,
 
the biggestconsequence of Bangkok’s water pollution is its impact on health and sanitation. When addressing the preceding issue, one is therefore undoubtedly forced to deal with aspects such as
why
health andsanitation is the biggest consequence,
what 
 
 solutions
and intended consequences could be generated,and also
what unintended consequences
could arrive out of potential solutions.Most residents of Bangkok have very little access to sewerage networks, and this often resultsin wastewater being dumped into the rivers and canals, often for lack of another disposal method. Evenin the case of residents who
do
use sewerage networks, because Bangkok’s sewerage system is rather  poorly constructed, liquid waste often flows out of the tanks and cesspits, contaminating the drinkingwater supply. Consequently, poor sanitary conditions prevail in many parts of Bangkok. According toBangkok’s department of health, in case of acute diarrhea, about 45,000 and 40,000 cases were foundin 1994 and 1995 respectively, with the figures being even higher in 1997 (Hinkado). Furthermore,residents that live in close proximity to the polluted waterways, such as water taxi drivers and floatingmarket vendors, often suffer from bacterial infections and skin irritations (Han). Accordingly, water  pollution and its consequences on Bangkok’s level of health have affected a range of communities.Communities of lower living standards, such as ‘klong’ residents in Bangkok are a communal groupwhich is greatly affected by water pollution. Klong residents often access water for daily usage directlyfrom the contaminated water sources, or they lack the resources and funds to purify water properly prior to consumption. Illness that is caused due to polluted water sources could seriously disrupt aklong resident’s (particularly a bread-winner’s) day to day life: work and income to support daily lifewould be put on hold, thus economically crippling him. Additionally, a resident would also have tospend or set aside extra money to treat diseases caused by the polluted water sources. A further 1
 
important fact to consider is that the economy of a country depends vastly on its labor force, and whenthe labor fore becomes weaker and weaker in aspects of physical health, this directly affects theeconomy and its sustainability. A low rate of sanitation in aspect of water increases the chances of disease and epidemics, hence becoming a potential threat to labor forces such as militia, governmentauthorities, factories and industries, etc. However, private hospitals, medical companies and other healthcare institutions might benefit from the rise in disease due to water pollution, as it results in theeconomic growth of the private medical sector. On the other hand, as the rate of disease rises,government medical expenditure also increases, further draining Bangkok’s funds and economy.The decline in health levels is the biggest consequence of water pollution in Bangkok, andeffective solutions to the dire situation are much needed. Bangkok’s industries utilize water mostly for cleaning and manufacturing purposes, and used water is often directly disposed into the city’s canalsand rivers without treatment. This discharged water usually contains harmful chemicals, toxins as wellas heavy metals and non-biodegradable particles that leads to further water pollution and disease. Aneffective solution to this would be to encourage major, large-scale industries to relocate in areasoutside of Bangkok, by way of tax breaks and duty exemption, and also enforcing of relevant, existinglaws, and ensuring that these are carried out properly. This would result in lesser volumes of un-treatedwater and waste being discharged into canals and waterways, thus reducing the level of water pollutionin Bangkok to a certain extent. Furthermore, an increase in industries outside of Bangkok will result ina lesser number of employees residing within Bangkok, thus also reducing the levels of domestic water  pollution. In addition, a lesser amount of industries operating within Bangkok would result in areduced level of harmful gas emission, and thus less acid rain –an environmental phenomenon thatcontaminates water. A further solution to improve the situation of water pollution would be to improvethe sewerage system in Bangkok. Every effort must be made to connect the domestic sewer arteriesinto the main metropolitan sewer system for a systematic disposal. This involves a large amount of funding that the government would have to locate through the national budget or by way of foreign aid.The project should entail a viable, long-lasting and altogether new sewer system, or a suitablerehabilitation of the current system. The establishment of a reliable, new sewer system will completelyeliminate the seepage of pollutants to the ground water and drinking water supply, resulting in areduced level of water- related health issues.Although the preceding solutions have the potential to better the issue of water pollution inBangkok, if not eradicate it, unintended consequences to these solution are to be expected. For example, corresponding to the first solution mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the items producedin the industrial areas outside of Bangkok will have to be transported via longer distances to theharbors and airports for export and domestic transport. Furthermore, as Bangkok is a developing2

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