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

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement