Local authorities in Poipet are scrambling to provide clean water to the town’s citizens after a private utilities company, which signed on to supply Poipet with water, announced last week that the city’s clean water supply would be short due to a reservoir drying up.
According to an announcement issued by Anco Water Supply – a private utilities company owned by tycoon Kok An – hot weather and limited rains in April, May and June have contributed to the depletion of Ou Kai Don Reservoir.
“Right now, the Ou Kai Don Reservoir is dried up . . . therefore the water supply will be short at the start of next week due to limited rain from April until June,” the announcement read.
Poipet town police chief Oum Sophal said that the provincial police chief of Banteay Meanchey has led officers to transport clean water from other districts by truck to provide the town’s population with clean water.
“Our forces are intervening to transport clean water to temporarily supply Poipet and Mongkol Borei [district],” he said.
Meanwhile, Poipet Deputy Governor Nong Thoung said that local authorities had been meeting to discuss a more permanent solution to the town’s water woes.
Sin Nam Yong, a Poipet official, said unusually hot weather had contributed to the area’s lack of drinking water. “Every year . . . the company still had enough water to supply us, but this year, the company announced a lack of supply. We are worried about that,” he said.
Soum Chankea, a coordinator from local rights group Adhoc based in Banteay Meanchey, said that Poipet residents have been suffering from the limited access to water.
“Poipet citizens totally depend on Anco’s supply for clean water,” he said. “Whether they transport clean water from other districts themselves or buy it, it is very difficult living.”
Poipet resident Sin Van, 40, echoed this sentiment, asking how authorities will handle the situation.
“The water that police and authorities help to transport to us cannot be used every day,” she said. “One day, the water will still be out, so how can we find more to use?”
Kok An and Chan Yutha, a cabinet chief at the Ministry of Water Resources, could not be reached for comment.
Anco has been faulted in the past for having insufficient reservoirs to supply all of the town’s residents with clean water.
In addition, drought conditions in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, possibly linked to this year’s El Niño weather system, have sparked speculation that Cambodia may be headed for an unusually dry rainy season. The rainy season usually stretches from June until September and accounts for the majority of the Kingdom’s rainfall during the year.