Siem Reap town’s civil society organisations and citizens have criticised the release of wastewater from guesthouses, hotels and restaurants into Siem Reap River, which has contaminated its water.
Authorities are looking into measures to improve the main river of the Kingdom’s principal historic tourism city.
Suos Narin, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said on Tuesday that authorities had previously warned the offending businesses following a public outcry.
“In some cases, the owners of hotels and businesses in Siem Reap town release wastewater from their premises into the river. Under the leadership of the previous provincial governor, he ordered a halt to releasing wastewater into the river by diverting it into another sewage system,” he said.
Narin said there is a water gate upriver.
When authorities need the water to rise, they close the gate to retain water, and during water festival – the Kingdom’s boat racing festival – they open the gate.
“As this is the dry season, there isn’t much water flowing. When the river’s waters no longer flow, its water is no longer clean and it becomes dirtier,” he said.
As Siem Reap province has the most tourism potential, Narin expressed his regret that the city could experience such pollution.
He said Siem Reap River should be clean again and made attractive for tourists.
“We don’t want to see wastewater flow into the river. Most hotels [are built along it], and in the evening tourists go for walks there. If it stinks, it will affect the number of tourists who come to visit.”
Siem Reap town villager Sam Oun on Tuesday also said Siem Reap River’s water has become much dirtier and has developed a stench. Authorities have closed the water gate, so the river currently does not flow through the waterways originating from the Kulen Mountain as it did previously.
“They have closed off the water from upstream. When the water is shut off like this, it forces the river’s waters to stop flowing and gives it a bad smell. We don’t know what measures will be taken by authorities,” he said.
Oun said provincial authorities used to try to clean the river but could not completely do so.
Siem Reap town governor Nuon Putheara told The Post on Tuesday that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in cooperation with Siem Reap provincial administration is actively seeking to resolve the issue. A research investigation into improving the river’s water has recently been completed.
“We have a sewage system for releasing wastewater and a rainwater sewer system that flows into the river separately. We will make adjustments to stop wastewater from flowing into the river. But we need time to carry out the task."
“When we have completed all of the studies, we will make a presentation to obtain comments and input."
“I would like you to wait and see. The official Siem Reap provincial administration Facebook page will disseminate the plan in detail. More information will be provided about what we have done and where we have treated the waste water that flows into the sewers,” Putheara said.