Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Digging deeper wells costs more



Digging deeper wells costs more

A child uses a groundwater pump to fill a water bottle last year. With the Kingdom facing water shortages and reliance on groundwater increasing, authorities are concerned the government’s relief budget will not be enough to cover the cost of deeper water wells.
A child uses a groundwater pump to fill a water bottle last year. With the Kingdom facing water shortages and reliance on groundwater increasing, authorities are concerned the government’s relief budget will not be enough to cover the cost of deeper water wells. Hong Menea

Digging deeper wells costs more

Amid a devastating drought, the need to dig more, and deeper, wells is threatening to overwhelm the government’s relief budget, according to government and relief agency officials.

The cost of wells rises exponentially with depth. And as groundwater continues to drop, itself exacerbated by the digging of more and more wells, deeper is the only place to go.

“In the past, we made normal wells, but now the simple well does not work,” said Pum Channy, secretary-general of the Cambodian Red Cross.

Men Neary Sopheak, deputy-general of the Red Cross, said that the CRC is working with provincial authorities to dig between 20 and 200 wells in affected villages or communes.

Private wells are often up to 30 metres deep, according to Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Secretary of State Bun Hean, while government-made wells are up to 60 metres. Sopheak said government wells can be as deep as 80 metres in the mountains.

Both agree that many of the 30-40 metre wells around the country have run dry and the same has begun happening to the 60-metre versions.

“In Kampong Thom, provincial authorities requested for wells to be at least 100 metres deep,” because shallower wells will be ineffective, Sopheak said yesterday.

This is much costlier. Wells of 30-40 metres can cost up to $500. Wells deeper than 70 metres can cost $2,000 and wells of 100 metres can cost $7,000 or more, according to both Hean and Sopheak.

Hean said that this will likely exceed the government’s relief budget, leaving Cambodia at the mercy of international donors.

The need to dig deeper stems mostly from the worst water shortage in half a century. However, according to a February study by Stanford University researchers, a long-term trend of overreliance on groundwater has also led to depleting reserves.

That study found that groundwater use is rising 10 per cent each year. More wells can depressurise underground aquifers, preventing the water from being pushed up, according to a Mekong River Commission water expert who asked to remain anonymous.

About 2.5 million people are affected by the drought, with 500,000 yet to receive assistance according to the National Committee for Disaster Management.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.

  • Preah Sihanouk hit with travel ban

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has announced a temporary travel ban to and from the province, except for ambulances and trucks transporting goods. The announcement came after prime minister Hun Sen called on people in the province to travel only if necessary, and that people not