Since the 2021 opening of a second high-tech wastewater treatment plant in Sihanoukville, the environment of Preah Sihanouk province has steadily improved, with a reduction in pollution and an increase in maritime biodiversity, said the Ministry of Environment.

In a January 1 video, the ministry explained that the plants – which employ second membrane-aerated biofilm reactors (MABR) – are the first of their kind in the Kingdom. The plants were built by Cambodian engineers from Phnom Penh-based Xwater Technology, using Israeli blueprints. The most recently constructed facility can process up to 7,200 cubic metres of wastewater per day.

It detailed the advantages of the MABR system, saying the membrane filters are designed to remove ammonia, carbon dioxide, bacteria and toxic substances. Once the water has been treated, it is of high quality and does not affect the environment.

During the primary stage of treatment, wastewater from the homes and businesses in the province is filtered through a coarse screen, which will filter out debris or particles that measures 2mm or larger.

“The wastewater is subsequently pumped through a series of progressively smaller filters, becoming cleaner at each stage. By the time each stage has been completed, the water can be discharged safely into the ocean,” said the ministry.

“MABR is recognised as one of the most efficient methods of treatment available in the world today. It is stable and quiet and does not produce any odour. Its efficiency saves the provincial authority an estimated $180,000 a year,” it added.

Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun said that the province’s treatment facilities were custom-built to purify wastewater and sewage to international standards, so they are safe enough to be released into the sea.

“The government has laid out plans to transform the province into a Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone. This will make it one of the country’s economic mainstays.

“It will attract foreign investment and become one of the core drivers of the growth of the national economy,” he said.

“MABR technology has played a large part in the development of Preah Sihanouk. It is one of the reasons we attract so many tourists,” he added.