Thai water pipe photo falsely shared as ‘corroded Sri Lankan pipeline’

Thai water pipe photo falsely shared as ‘corroded Sri Lankan pipeline’

Sri Lankan Facebook users have recirculated an old photo of a corroded water pipe in Thailand alongside a false claim that it was taken in the island nation. The image was first shared online by Thai users complaining about the condition of the kingdom’s water pipes in 2016 — which Thai authorities said have since been replaced.

“To know the real condition of a water pipe in Sri Lanka, it has to be broken. You better know these. However, it is good to boil water before drinking it,” read the Sinhala-language Facebook caption alongside the photo shared on June 19, 2024.

A similar claim shared here went on to falsely suggest the condition of the pipe was exposed after it was hit by a car in a town on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo on June 17 (archived link).

“This is the water pipe that was broken by the car. Look at the water pipe that people say is clean,” the post read.

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Screengrab of the false post, taken on June 25

Similar false claims were made here and here.

Some users appeared to believe the image genuinely shows a water pipe in Sri Lanka.

“What is the dirt inside this country? If people see this they will say no to water,” one user commented.

“We also have this kind of pipe in our area,” another said.

The false posts circulated online in the cash-strapped island nation, which increased water tariffs in late 2023 following an unprecedented economic crisis after it ran out of foreign exchange to pay for imports.

AFP reported on June 25, 2024 that the South Asian country had finalised long-delayed debt deals with its bilateral lenders including China to meet a key condition of an IMF bailout, the government said.

Water pipe in Thailand

Sri Lanka’s National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) said in a Facebook comment left in one of the false posts that the claim was “fake news” (archived link).

Reverse image searches found the photo was originally published in 2016 here (archived link).

It was posted by residents of a community on the outskirts of Thailand’s capital Bangkok to highlight the poor condition of a local water pipe.

Thailand’s Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) responded on Facebook to the complaints in 2017, which contained the picture in the false posts (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and the MWA post (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and the MWA post (right)</span><span><button class=

Screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and the MWA post (right)

The MWA post said the pictured pipe had not been used since April 2016, when it was removed from Lat Krabang, an eastern suburb of Bangkok.

It went on to say the yellowish substance inside the pipe had accumulated over time due to particles found in water, and that the water passing through it was of good quality as the deposit did not mix with water.

AFP previously debunked the same image in 2019 and 2021.

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