The Phnom Penh Water Authority says the capital's vastly improved
water quality should be further incentive for investors to set up shop
in the city
Until recently, drinking municipal water straight from the tap was
unthinkable for most. But water authority officials say city water is
now as safe as bottled or boiled water.
Only 24 of the 130 bottled- water
producers in Cambodia are registered with the government, raising
concerns for quality, according to Ping Sivlay of the Industry
Ministry. "Some brands are safe to drink, but many are not," he said.
ONCE shunned, Phnom Penh's public water
supply has improved to the point where it is safe to drink from the
tap, according to the Phnom Penh Water Authority, which is using the
capital's water quality as a major selling point to potential investors.
"Today our water is 100 percent safe to drink directly from the family
faucet, Ek Sonn Chan, told the Post Wednesday, explaining that new
pipes and the introduction of chlorine has raised the calibre of the
Raw municipal water samples were tested this year at PSB Corp in
Singapore and the Coca-Cola Co's Global Quality Analytical Services
laboratory in Shanghai, he said.
Both found the water to be free of dangerous materials like lead or
mercury, or to contain acceptable levels of other substances, according
to documents obtained by the Post.
With investment in Cambodia growing, the demand for water in the
capital has increased 10 percent year-on-year, Ek Sonn Chan said, and
now stands at 250,000 cubic metres a day.
He added that the authority has connected some 17,000 households to
public water in the previous year and hopes to have 40,000 new
customers by 2011.
However, factories and an expanding hospitality sector continue to be the leading consumers, he said.
In the past, he said, both have been forced to pour millions of dollars
into their own treatment plants or source their water from elsewhere,
adding heavily to the overall cost of doing business in Cambodia.
"Now hotels like the Cambodiana and factories have enough [public]
water supply - they are using Phnom Penh water and lowering their
costs," Ek Sonn Chan said.
While the Cambodiana still maintains a private water supply, general
manager Bernard Piere said the hotel began using public water earlier
"This is a great step to have the convenience of clean state water," he said.
Luu Meng, president of the Cambodian Hotel Association, said that five
years ago, hotels were spending much more money on water-treatment
"Today is much cleaner," he said Thursday.
"I can say that almost every hotel is using state water - it is
important that the water supply becomes higher quality, for both
business and personally," he added.
The high cost of utilities continues to be the biggest deterrent to
foreign investment, say commerce officials, who have encouraged the
government to lower both water and electricity prices. The water
authority is planning to build a new US$40 million water treatment
plant by 2009, Ek Sonn Chan said.