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Restoration plan to turn clock back 60 years for Pattaya

October 4, 2011

Researchers have completed a master plan to reverse coastal erosion and restore a stretch of beach running between North and South Pattaya to a width of 35 metres and a length of more than 2.7 kilometres.

A 20member team led by Prof Thanawat Jarupongsakul, a lecturer at the Unit for Disaster and Land Information Studies at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science, devised the plan, which will add sand to the eroded area.

After a year of studying different methods of adding sand, the team finally found a suitable method. Chosen because of its similar composition and grainsize to the sand on the eroded beach, 369,035 cubic metres of sand from a Rayong river mouth will be used to reclaim the beach in Pattaya to a width of 35 metres and a length of 2,785 metres – its dimensions in 1952.

The reclamation effort will be done in 100mlong stages, as authorities do not want it to affect vendors and tourists.

Thanawat said his team had done a chemical analysis to ensure that the sand from the river mouth was not contaminated by any chemical substances that could harm people. The river mouth is 90 kilometres from Pattaya.

“The beach is only 3.5 metres wide now; it disappears during high tide,” Thanawat said.

“We expect that in the first year after reclamation, the beach will be eroded 10 metres; in the second and third years it will be eroded a further one metre each; and from the fourth year on, it will lose 0.8 metres per year. Therefore, we will have to add sand again every 1014 years. However, if there are heavy storms, we will have to reclaim it earlier – in the next five to seven years,” he said.

Included in the 35metrewide reclamation area is a 15metrewide portion next to the road which will serve as a buffer zone, under which a strong buffer will be buried to prevent severe erosion when there are storms.

The Marine Department plans to provide Bt387 million for the reclamation, said Somchai Sumanuskajonkul, director of department’s Engineering Bureau.

Thanawat said the team expected 1.7 million more tourists would visit Pattaya a year. It is estimated every Bt1 invested in the restoration will generate Bt40 of revenue for the city.

Thanawat and Somchai will this month submit the plan to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“Normally, the EIA consideration process takes three months to a year. If it approves the plan, the Marine Department will be able to start the beach restoration in 2012 or 2013,” said Thanawat, adding that it would take eight months to complete.

“If the restoration in Pattaya is successful, we will use it as a beach reclamation model to be implemented at other eroded beaches in Thailand,” Somchai said.

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