Praek Tup, a natural lake located in village 1, commune 3, Sihanoukville, will be developed into a tourist destination, Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesman Or Saroeun told The Post on Tuesday.
The lake was once a source of fresh water for the people.
Saroeun said the goal was to turn the lake into a tourist destination, as the water source was relocated to Kbal Chhay.
“Now, we cannot depend on Praek Tup anymore for clean water supply due to a sharp demand. That’s why recently, experts – including national and provincial leaders – decided to stop using Praek Tup as a clean water supply in the province,” Saroeun said.
He said the reason for the change was that the lake is small and cannot supply enough water for the increasing number of citizens and tourists as it previously could.
“In short, the province has a plan – the province will not use [Praek Tup lake] in the future as we have already prepared the Kbal Chhay clean water supply source.
“Currently, technical officers are preparing pipe systems to Kbal Chhay instead. So Praek Tup lake will be developed as a resort and tourist recreation place in the future.”
However, Saroeun said the lake was still supplying the rapidly increasing construction sector.
“We are now concealing the master pipe network underground. When the job is completed, we will no longer use the water at Praek Tup,” he said.
Saroeun said authorities at provincial and national levels will allow a private company to invest in the development of the site.
But he could not confirm a specific timeframe for the termination of clean water supply at Praek Tup lake, or when the development would start, as the authorities are still conducting a feasibility study.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the ministry supports the idea of turning the Praek Tup lake into a tourist attraction.
“For the source of clean water supply for Preah Sihanouk town, the protected Kbal Chhay site can replace it. We don’t have any concern over a lack of fresh water for use. The ministry supports the plan,” he said.
A sub-decree on the Creation of Preserved Site of Praek Tup freshwater lake was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 13, 2016.
Cheab Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said she was disappointed with the decision to develop Praek Tup.
“It’s a shame that we can only raise our concerns but cannot prevent this development plan. As far as we know, Sihanoukville residents currently rely only on the Praek Tup lake for clean water.
“If we turn to Kbal Chhay, I think it cannot provide enough clean water supply,” she said.