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Ceremony greets new reservoir

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Privately-funded project will irrigate 500 hectares in Siem Reap province

Photo by: Erica Goldberg

The new watergate at Trav Kod Reservoir.

The Trav Kod Reservoir in Prasat Bakong district was officially opened on Wednesday morning, with about 500 guests present, including a large contingent of local villagers.

The reservoir will provide water to about 9,000 residents in Siem Reap province.

The opening ceremony celebrated the rebuilding of the water gate that had been destroyed during the civil war and is believed to be one of the largest parts of the ancient Angkorian reservoir system.

Human Translation project director Tobias Rose-Stockwell devised the project five years ago after a monk explained the importance.

He said, "There's a symbolic significance, but also a very practical significance. The water will travel from the reservoir through canals and can then be used for consumption during the dry season, for irrigation to grow primary rice crops or secondary crops.

"This can also be a potential fishery for community because it is absolutely enormous."

Rose-Stockwell said the US$200,000 spent on the project was raised with help from other NGOs, as well as an August 2007 private auction and opera in a wine cave in Napa Valley, California.

The reservoir, which took engineers about a year-and-a-half to design and construct, retains 50 hectares of water, and has 500 hectares of estimated irrigation area. 

Engineers Without Borders-New York City oversaw the project and drew the plans.  "On our first assessment, we couldn't even tell where the embankment was, the area was so overgrown," said project leader William Cao. "That's when we realised how big a job this was."

The reservoir was readied for water intake early this week, and began to fill immediately.  

"This is the first time we have seen the reservoir full," said D Bryce Gaboury of Engineers Without Borders.  "We've gone from nothing to seeing a lake with birds here."

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