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Water supply dries up

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This water tower is part of a system that can't cope with Siem Reap's growth. Photograph: Thik Kaliyann/Phnom Penh Post

Siem Reap city’s demand for domestic water has been increasing rapidly, and existing water treatment plants are unable to meet the demand due to a population increase and a surge in tourism.

Fairly stringent cuts to the water supply service have been introduced, and Siem Reap’s water service level is one of the worst among the country's major cities.

Deputy general director of Siem Reap’s Water Supply Authority, Chan Seng La, told Siem Reap Insider that, “We cannot produce enough water for domestic and commercial customers’ demands.”

He added that water cuts lasting from one to two hours each day have been imposed on homes and businesses in a large swathe of downtown Siem Reap, due to an increase in consumer demand and the limitations of water production.

The Siem Reap Water Supply Authority produces 9,000 cubic meters daily, but this is not enough. Chan Seng La said, “To fulfill residents demands, we need to produce 20,000 cubic meters every day.”

He said that recently the Siem Reap Water Supply Authority undertook an additional feasibility study on the Tonle Sap Lake for taking water to treatment.

The Siem Reap Authority Water Supply had already cancelled a contract for building a new water plant owned by the KTC Korea Company, which draws water from the Baray reservoir

Chan Seng La said, “We cancelled the contract because we observed that the Korean company wasn’t taking action on building and construction.”

Groundwater is still being used to fulfill residents’ demand, and the Siem Reap Water Supply Authority has eight groundwater checking systems to make sure drawing the groundwater will not harm temples, especially Angkor Wat.

Siem Reap Water Supply Authority deputy director Soum Kounthea said that on March 29 this year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an Official Development Assistance to Cambodia loan agreement with the government in Phnom Penh to provide a loan of up to 7,161 million yen (approx. US$91 million) to assist the Siem Reap Water Supply Expansion Project.

Soum Kounthea said, “The provision of an efficient and sustainable water supply system in Siem Reap province will be through a water supply development plan up to the year 2030.”

The construction of the planned multimillion dollar water supply system includes raw water intake facilities from Tonle Sap lake, and treatment facilities including coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection.

Soum Kounthea also said that the plan to draw the water from Tonle Sap won’t affect the eco system.

He added, “We plan to take around 60,000 cubic meters of water per day.”

But he noted that taking new water sources from Tonle Sap will not come online until 2018.

He said water shortages in Siem Reap happened many times in the dry season last year, and he has already been getting many calls from unhappy customers this year as shortages kick in.

But he said this year many people understand what the problem behind the water shortages is. “I tell people to store water while it’s on, and use that when the supply is cut,” he added.

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