The Battambang provincial governor has ordered the authorities to close sewers in the Sangke River after monks posted a video showing toxic wastewater flowing into it and allegedly affecting nearby residents’ health.
Provincial governor Nguon Ratanak told The Post on Sunday that on February 7, he ordered the closure of sewers flowing into the river and the pumping of wastewater from the sewers into a reservoir outside the town.
“The sewers usually overflow slightly, but they have begun to flow too much. The wet season can cause floods which adds pressure to the dam and makes it lead wastewater which usually goes elsewhere,” he said.
Monks and youths of Mother Nature Cambodia have been requesting the government to take action to address the flowing of sewage into the river as the wastewater entering it was not filtered properly.
The two-minute video on March 6 showed wastewater flowing out unfiltered from hospitals, hotels and guesthouses. The video pointed out that the unfiltered water carried bacteria and parasites that were endangering the health of fishermen and residents who use the water.
A monk said in the video: “We took a water sample to test at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and the result showed that it carries very dangerous substances including E-coli and trichomonas intestinalis.
“These substances harm the health [of people] who eat fish from the Sangke River. They pose threats to the lives of those who use river water daily. It also puts in danger the lives of the children, who swim in it.”
Escherichia coli (called E. coli) is a bacteria that is detected in the environment, food and the intestines of healthy people and animals. Though most types of E. Coli are not harmful, some forms of the bacteria can make people very ill, including causing diarrhoea, kidney damage, lung inflammation and other diseases.
Provincial Department of Environment director Kort Boran said the wastewater was closed off from the river for a long time. But because the water had risen too much during last year’s rainy season, the sewers broke and caused the wastewater to flow into the river.
“The sewers were closed, but there is still a slight seepage. When the rainy season causes flooding, it flows along the sewers to the west of the province. This causes the dams to break and leak water into the river,” he said.
He said in the past, wastewater had not flowed into the river, but instead into a 150sqm wastewater treatment facility outside the town to purify it before it was released into residents’ rice fields.