Relevant institutions and specialists working on clean drinking water have highlighted the importance of the Sangke River, which runs through Battambang town, saying it is the main source of water for residents to water crops, irrigate rice fields and raise animals.

They have urged people living along the Sangke to respect the waterway and participate in its conservation, and to cease polluting the river and affecting livelihoods.

Provincial governor Sok Lou said some 30 cages for fish farming and bamboo dams had been placed in the river upstream from Chen village in Prek Preah Sdech.

“The provincial administration built a dam at Sala Ta On to serve the irrigation needs of people living along the river, as well as to enhance the appearance of the city, so any polluting of the river affects everybody.”

“With poorly built houses cluttering the riverside, Sangke River has become littered with waste.

“Having seen the challenges presented, the province has brought in regulations for three institutions – the departments of environment; agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; industry, science, technology and innovation – to follow to prevent such activity.

“We are taking these measures to keep the level of the Sangke at more than 10m to benefit the town and ensure the river stays beautiful for attracting national and international tourists,” Sok Lou said.

Uth Kling, director of the provincial industry department, said the situation had caused a number of problems.

“Some residents living along the Sangke upstream of the water pumping station have installed cages for fish farming and bamboo dams in the river, impacting the river and polluting the water.

“This activity has also seriously impacted the provincial water supply authority’s day-to-day production of clean drinking water,” Kling said.

The government has laid out a national strategic plan to provide 100 per cent of the Kingdom’s urban population with access to clean water by 2025, and nationwide by 2030.