Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Illegal pumping of raw groundwater for soapy massages blamed for subsidence.
SINKING FEELING Bangkok could be partly submerged by 2030 because ‘soapy massage’ brothels are stealing groundwater causing the city to SINK
Thai cops have raided several ‘mega-brothels’ in the low-lying city which they believe are illegally siphoning groundwater
By Mark Hodge
25th January 2018, 9:50 pmUpdated: 25th January 2018, 10:11 pm
BANGKOK’s mega-brothels are being blamed for the sinking of the city by cops who say the gaudy businesses are illegally stealing groundwater for “soapy massages”.
The crackdown was launched after a trafficking raid on Victoria Secret massage parlour found evidence the venue was siphoning water to avoid paying pricey utility bills.
Investigators also discovered underage sex workers at the business and a ledger listing bribes to authorities.
Environmental officials say the illegal tapping of water contributes to the sinking of Bangkok, a low-lying city built on the banks of the Chaophraya river.
Experts have warned that parts of Bangkok could be submerged by 2030, chiefly due to rising sea levels and the draining of groundwater in the capital’s swampy soil.
Efforts in recent years to regulate groundwater use have drastically slowed the city’s sinking rate from a peak of around 10cm a year in the late 1970s.
But the massage parlours’ breach of regulations has revealed yet another way in which notorious venues fail to be above board.
Its difficult to quantify how much damage illegal groundwater pumping is causing. Groundwater pumping is believed to have caused up to 10cm / year subsidence in the 1970s, as opposed to sea level rise of a few mm per year, so the potential harm to city infrastructure from illegal pumping is substantial.