As of the first quarter of this year, the first phase of the Bak Kheng water treatment plant construction project had been 60 per cent complete, as residents in some parts of the capital continued to bemoan an inadequate water supply.
The plant is a major investment project by the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) for the capital and neighbouring Takhmao town in Kandal province, with a cost of more than $380 million.
The project was officially begun on May 5, 2020 under a concessional loan agreement between the Cambodian government, French Development Agency (AFD) and European Investment Bank.
According to the PPWSA, the project has a total production capacity of 390,000 cubic metres per day and is divided into two phases. Upon completion of phase one, the site will have achieved half of its production capacity.
The plant is built by French construction contractor VINCI Construction Grands Projets and supervised by SAFEGE Consulting Engineers.
“By the end of the first quarter, the construction of the first phase – with the ability to produce 195,000 cubic metres of clean water per day – is around 60 per cent complete,” said the PPWSA.
There are three major parts of each phase of the project.
The first is the construction of the water treatment plant itself. This includes buildings and substantial water tanks, along with laboratories and administrative space. This portion of the project is estimated to be 50 per cent complete.
The second part involves a dense-water pumping station, which is 55 per cent complete, and the installation of 1,400mm-diameter pipeline, which are 45 per cent installed.
The third part of the construction work focuses on the laying of pipes. Nearly 90 per cent of the 7km of 2m water mains have been laid, with the drilling operation under the Tonle Sap River halfway finished.
According to the PPWSA, construction of the second phase is also underway simultaneously, and is just over one-third complete.
Inn Neth, a resident of a gated community – known locally as borey – in Phnom Penh’s Kamboul district, said he had been living without clean water for many years. He said clean water in his Borey Piphop Thmey had been available just before the Khmer New year holiday, but it had not reached his house.
“In this district, some houses have access to clean water. My borey is starting to see a semi-regular supply. If you do not have a water pump, you get nothing, and sometimes even when you do use an electric pump, you still get nothing,” he said.
He said that while boreys continue to lack water, they buy water stored in thousand litre tanks, which cost between 20 and 30,000 riel (0.5 US cents and $7.40).
He expressed hope that the new water treatment plant would provide enough water for both the people in the inner city and those on the outskirts.
Vorn Bunrin, a resident of Borey Piphop Thmey Kour Srov 2 in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, said that at present, residents do not have clean water from the PPWSA, but use well water from the borey. To access the well, they need a pump.
“Every day we have a problem and need to use a pump to get water. For those who don’t have a water pump, there is no water. If they can access it, it is only in the front of the house. My neighbour, for example, has to carry water from the front of her house to her kitchen and bathroom because she does not own a water pump,” he said.
The first phase of the new plant is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with phase II projected to come online at the end of 2023.
The PPWSA said their management team accelerated their construction plans in order to alleviate the water shortages which have plagued some residents.