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Final year of water shortages for Phnom Penh, say utility officials

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People come to take water in Kamboul commune of Phnom Penh’s Kamboul district in March 2020. FACEBOOK

Final year of water shortages for Phnom Penh, say utility officials

This year’s dry season is no different from last year, with people in the suburbs of Phnom Penh beginning to complain about the lacking of clean water.

Officials from the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) have asked residents to be patient, saying that this will be the last year of water shortages.

Ly Pros, 49, a resident of Chraing Chamreh I commune’s Village 13 in Russey Keo district, said the water supply system in his area was frustrating and that sometimes there was not a single drop of water available. He said that it was not uncommon for the supply to dry up between 7 and 10am, and again in the evenings until 9pm or so.

“In the past, I suspected my house was not receiving water because people in my area had connected automatic pumps and were taking the majority of the available supply. However, I now have a pump myself, and there is still no water,” he said.

Despite the problems in Russey Keo, consumers can still get clean water – provided they use it sparingly. On the outskirts of Phnom Penh, some are unable to collect even well water.

Khuth Sochenda, a 50-year-old resident of Kantouk commune’s Snguon Pich village in Kampoul district, told The Post that his family have faced water shortages since last week. The villagers fetch water from water tanks in the gardens, which were provided by business Hong Piv for people living in the Borey Kamboul I gated community.

“This is not the first dry season that we have experienced this, it has happened in each of the three years my family and I have lived here,” he said.

He was happy to share water with his neighbours who did not have time to fetch water from the tanks in the garden. He collected three to five 30L barrels per day for the use of his family of 3 and his neighbours, he said.

Sochenda requested that the municipal administration and water supply officials provide more water to locals, because they have faced shortages for years.

PPWSA deputy director Samreth Sovithia told The Post that population growth and the development of commercial buildings, hotels, entertainment clubs, factories, and other enterprises had increased the demand for water in recent years.

The sharp rise in demand had been higher than expected. Clean water production was increasing every year, but the high demand meant the increases were struggling to keep pace. In 2016, for example the PPWSA produced just over 400,000m3 of clean water, he said.

“Currently, the PPWSA produces more than 600,000m3 of clean water per day, but current demand is more than 700,000m3.This means the supply of our clean water is still short of more than 100,000m3 per day,” he said.

“This is the last summer that will see water shortages. People should continue to be patient and share clean water to use. By the 2023 dry season, this problem will be solved,” he said.

According to Sovithia, the completion of a new treatment plant in Chroy Changvar district’s Prek Leap commune next year will increase production capacity. When the project is completed, it is expected that the supply of clean water will exceed demand, ending shortages.

“At the beginning of 2023, the new water treatment plant will be able to produce an additional 200,000m3 of clean water. By the end of 2023 it will be able to produce an additional 200,000m3. This means that we will be producing in excess of 1 million m3 of clean water annually,” he added.

Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng recently urged all district administrations to focus on the current shortages and to distribute water to those suburbs that were running dry.

“Phnom Penh today is not only expanding its total land area, but is also growing taller with the addition of high-rise housing, so the demand for water has also increased significantly,” he said.

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