Workers at the new water-treatment plant in Phnom Penh’s Chruoy Changvar district.
Written by May Kunmakara
Tuesday, 06 January 2009
In a bid to keep up with growing demand, the govt has loaned Phnom Penh’s water authority funding needed to build a second major plant in the capital
SOME two years in the making, a new US$13 million water supply station will start providing Phnom Penh with desperately-needed additional water early this year in order to keep up with mushrooming demand, an official said.
"We have borrowed millions of dollars from our development partners and especially from the government to enlarge our water-supply system so we can cope with high demand," said Ek Sokchan, director general of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.
The station, located in Chruoy Changvar district, which was financed by a 10-year loan from the French Development Agency, draws water from the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, he said.
He said that the new station would increase supply capacity from the current 235,000 cubic metres to roughly 300,000 cubic metres a day, enough to provide 200,000 families in the city with the essential liquid.
Ek Sokchan said the additional water supply is direly needed. "I estimate that nowadays only 90 percent of Phnom Penh's population has access to water."
"Water demand is increasing at around 200,000 cubic metres [or roughly 10 percent] every year," he said. "This increase is caused not only by population growth, but it also derives from increased individual demand."
The authority has expanded the network of underground water pipes to a length of 1,600 kilometres, Ek Sokchan said, adding that even most people living in the outskirts of Phnom Penh now enjoy access to the network.
He explained that the price per cubic metre depended on the quantity and the use to which the water is put. For example, individuals using small amounts of water may pay as little as 550 riels ($0.13) per cubic metre, while industrial enterprises may have to pay up to 1,400 riels, he said.
Chan Sophal of the Cambodia Economic Association told the Post on Wednesday that the country's rapid economic growth played a large role in fuelling water demand, adding that in Cambodia, water was cheaper than electricity.
"The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority works very hard to meet the high demand and provide people with high-quality water at a fair price," he said.