Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Environmental officials have been monitoring Boeung Yeak Laom Lake’s water quality, which has become unusually murky in recent days.

Officials have told residents not to worry, claiming it is a natural phenomenon.

Environment department director Phon Khemrin confirmed to The Post on February 22 that the surface of the lake had turned murky around February 20 and that this change was a natural occurrence that should not be a cause for concern.

According to Khemrin, the water’s discoloration is not due to pollution or an indicator of any environmental problem. After inspecting the water, he said there were no unpleasant odours emanating from the water and that no fish or plants appeared to have died as a result.

“In general, we’ve noted that when countries in the region such as Indonesia and the Philippines undergo certain phenomenon, it causes the water in the lake to become muddy like this. We do not know exactly what the connection is scientifically,” Khemrin said.

At the same time that was occurring, the Boeung Lum Kot, Boeung Yeak Oam and Boeung Yeak Ra lakes in Seda commune of the province’s Lumphat district had also become murky.

According to Khemrin, since February 22 the water in Boeung Yeak Laom Lake has gotten clearer. He believes that within a week or so the water will return to its original colour.

Khemrin noted that people are still using the water regularly and it is not causing any itching, rashes or other unusual affects.

On February 21, the water level receded sharply and then returned to normal the next day, which was also attributable to a natural phenomenon.

Khemrin said at present the environment department is working with the community at Boeung Yeak Laom Lake and has been closely monitoring the water colour changes and making regular reports to the environment ministry and provincial administration.

Neav Kheat, a vendor at the lake, said: “We have seen the water turn red with some yellow in it over the past few days. Some parts of the lake turn black too but now some of these changes have started to go away.”

Kheat said people could still safely swim in the lake, while animals in the area were still drinking the water and kids were still bathing in the lake every day without any apparent problems.

On June 20, 2018, the government issued a sub-decree on the establishment of a multi-use area of Beoung Yeak Laom Lake which covered 225ha in Banlung town.

One of Cambodia’s most attractive tourist destinations, Beoung Yeak Laom features eco-tourism resorts ringed around its shores – all of which are shaded by a lush canopy of trees growing right up to the edge of waters with a still surface that serenely reflects the blue skies overhead.

According to geologists, the lake was created by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. The vast expanse of the almost-circular lake has calm crystal clear waters the majority of the time with maximum depths of 50m to 70m.