As the dry season takes hold, the government is preparing to tackle a water shortage in six provinces, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.
Ministry spokesman Chan Yutha told The Post on Monday that the six provinces are Oddar Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Preah Vihear and Koh Kong. Preah Sihanouk province, he said, is yet to face a serious water shortage.
“The six provinces affected, but as I have previously confirmed, the water shortage does not happen everywhere in those provinces, only in certain areas,” he said.
To address the issue, Yutha said the ministry has prepared, among others, a budget and vehicles for transporting water to the affected provinces, while relevant experts continue to study the water system.
“The ministry has built wells and sent vehicles for transporting needed water to the provinces. We have also studied some areas to find more sources from the waterway such as underground water and extract it for consumption."
“It doesn’t matter how far the areas are, as we can transport the water from there for consumption,” he said.
Yutha said water shortages have happened frequently and this year the first areas to bear the brunt are Kors Kralor and Moung Russey districts in Battambang province and Stoung district in Kampong Thom province.
The ministry, he said, will tackle the water shortage based on the situation on the ground.
“In Kors Kralor and Moung Russey district, there are 28,000 families and with the existing infrastructure, we need to extend the canal by 6km to let the water flow from the main multi-purpose canal in Ratanak Mondol district,” he said.
Drying up in Koh Kong
In Koh Kong province, fresh water sources in the coastal provincial town also started to dry up, albeit slowly. Yutha said authorities will dispatch vehicles to distribute water for people in the affected areas while relevant experts conduct a study to find more water sources for extraction.
In Prey Veng province, drought started in Mesang district. Yutha said the ministry has provided funds for authorities to build wells in the areas where water shortage looms.
In Kampong Thom province, the water shortage happened in Stoung district as the Stoung tributary in the district began to dry out.
“The Stoung tributary started to dry up in some places. Therefore, we’ve used machinery to deepen the tributary in order to get more water, so people can pump it for their consumption,” Yutha said.
In Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces, water shortage has affected two prisons. Yutha said the ministry initially assigned provincial authorities to transport water for temporary consumption but minister Lim Kean Hor ordered them to build wells instead.
“In Oddar Meanchey province now, the minister financed the construction of a well that is 80m deep with the capacity to supply four cubic metres of water per hour. It’s enough for consumption,” he said.
The Oddar Meanchey provincial prison, he said, accommodates around 600 officials and inmates and requires 22 cubic metres for daily consumption.
In Preah Vihear province, Kean Hor has offered one well for water supply to address the water shortage, especially at the provincial prison which accommodates 55 officials and 455 inmates.
Preah Vihear provincial governor Un Chanda told The Post on Monday that the provincial prison is short on water after its ponds dried out. He said there are no other places in the province that faces serious water shortages.
“This is just the prison, but in the whole province, water shortage has not happened yet. I have also instructed district-town governors to monitor the situation and answer to the people’s demand for water,” he said.
Chanda said the provincial administration has prepared necessary measures to intervene upon receiving information of water shortages.
On January 17, the government issued a directive urging people to save and reserve water for consumption in the upcoming dry season as the Kingdom will be influenced indirectly by the El Nino phenomenon which causes the temperature to rise in April and May.
The directive said temperatures in some areas might rise to 42 degree Celsius with less monthly rain and a high rate of lightning and storm. The El Nino phenomenon will also delay the rainy season.
“The influence of the El Nino phenomenon is triggered by the increase of temperature at the open sea and this originated from huge industries around the world,” Yutha said.