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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Seaside town set for big sewage cleanup

Seaside town set for big sewage cleanup

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,"

said Mithonarath.

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.

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