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Sihanoukville short of fresh water

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A man pumps water at the fresh water reservoir Boeung Prek Tup in Preah Sihanouk province. Pha Lina

Sihanoukville short of fresh water

Villagers and local freshwater vendors on Thursday expressed concern about fresh water supply in Preah Sihanouk province, after a private company partially filled fresh water reservoir Boeung Prek Tup with sand for tourist development.

Boeung Prek Tup is a natural lake located in Sihanoukville’s Village 1, Commune 3, and was used as a reservoir supplying fresh water to the city’s residents.

Khim Samnang, a villager and freshwater vendor from the city’s Commune 3, told The Post his business of transporting and selling fresh water in the province has been ruined.

“People don’t want to purchase the water from Boeung Prek Tup anymore because it has become saltier. Even hotels that used to buy water from me to wash their dishes don’t want to buy it anymore because they are afraid the salt water will ruin their dishes,” he said.

Samnang explained that the lake’s water became saltier once it was filled with sand extracted from the sea for the development.

“The water was never salty. But now, after the lake was filled with sand, the water became salty. When the water was distributed to the villages, people started to complain that it is too salty to consume,” he said.

Sim Darak, a fellow resident of Commune 3, said that villagers no longer know where to get their fresh water supply from.

“The fresh water supplied by the government does not come regularly. Some days the water comes, the next day it does not. Freshwater from Boeung Prek Tup cannot be used anymore, so I don’t know where to get fresh water,” he said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial hall spokesperson Or Saroeun confirmed that the area has been transformed into a tourist destination by a private company that has been permitted to develop the area.

“We cannot use Boeung Prek Tup to supply fresh water anymore because the population has gone up drastically. Experts at the national and provincial level decided not to use Boeung Prek Tup to supply water to the province anymore,” he said.

Saroeun said that town planning experts and Anco Water Supply Co Ltd – a private company in charge of distributing water in the Kbal Chhay area – are determined to provide a reliable source of fresh water to the affected villages by Khmer New Year.

“We noticed that some hotels and private companies have their own ways of getting access to fresh water such as digging their own wells or buying water from the outside,” he said, adding that if people have water issues they can talk to the provincial authority who will address the problem immediately.

Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said fresh water supply was a growing issue due to Sihanoukville’s many new high-rise buildings and rapid population growth.

“The freshwater shortage occurred long ago. We’ve observed that many people and private companies have started digging their own wells for fresh water to combat the issue,” she said.

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