Sihanoukville is set to have a functioning and sustainable sewerage system and treatment
plant within the next two years. It is part of a $20 million Asian Development Bank
project to improve sanitation and water services in provincial towns. The port town's
untreated sewage and industrial waste, including that from the Angkor Brewery, flows
into the sea.
"We should protect the environment - we were getting a lot of complaints from
the local people," said Vong Pisith of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport
(MPWT), which is involved in the project. He said the project was unique to the country
because it involved creating a Wastewater Authority to oversee the new sewage system.
"It's a first in Cambodia," he said. "We wanted to start small so
we could learn from it. If it is a success we will do the same in Phnom Penh."
Som Mithonarath is an environmental design engineer and deputy team leader for the
project. He said their work involved not only the technical design of the sewerage
system, but also ensuring it was sustainable.
This required establishing a new authority and legislation to run the system, he
said. One of the tasks of the Wastewater Authority will be to charge residents and
businesses for the service.
"In Cambodia we don't have any law or regulation covering waste water. [The
Sihanoukville project] will be the first time," said Mithonarath.
The MPWT's Pisith said consultants had come up with ten different methods for raising
revenue. Among these were variable tariffs for different user groups, a municipal
land tax or an additional charge on water bills. After discussing the various options
with local people, he said the consultants would forward the chosen method to the
Council of Ministers for approval.
The twelve hectare treatment plant will be built on Ochheuteal Stream, but design
constraints mean heavily-touristed Ochheuteal Beach, along with other low-lying areas,
will not be included for the moment.
"We've focused on the center of town but we've designed the system so it will
catch as large an area as possible, including collection from the brewery,"
Pisith said he hoped the ADB would approve the design by the end of January, after
which the project would go to tender.
"We hope to start construction by the middle of this year and to finish the
project by 2004," he said.