Kandal provincial authorities have taken action to stop excavation activities in Kandal Stung district’s Choeung Koeub commune, which are allegedly causing local wells to run dry.
About 100 villagers held a protest on Wednesday morning complaining about multiple businessmen digging up soil to sell for construction materials.
The villagers said that since the digging began, they had been unable to draw water from multiple wells across the commune.
“They come to dig in our village, making many holes,” said villager Chan Van. “It is affecting our living and environment.”
Kandal Governor Mao Phirun had sent a letter on February 25 ordering two businessmen to stop digging up the soil. But according to the villagers the businessmen did not comply.
Contact information for the two alleged excavators, Soa Sothea and Soa Ponlerk, was not available yesterday.
In response to the villagers’ complaints, provincial authorities went to Choeung Koeub on Wednesday and put a temporary halt to Sothea and Ponlerk’s activities.
However, the villagers claim other unidentified companies are also digging up the soil.
Mekong River Commission technical adviser Ian Thomas said digging openings into a naturally pressurised underground aquifer would make it lose pressure, causing well water levels to drop.
Bun Hean, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said low groundwater levels were a problem in parts of Cambodia during the dry season.
A February Stanford University study found the more wells Cambodians dig, the harder it will be to extract water.