The National Assembly on Tuesday approved a 41-article law on the management of water resources and discussed damage caused by the release of water from a Vietnamese hydroelectric dam.
The 11-chapter law, which declares that all water resources are public property and places them under government administration, was approved by a vote of 87 of 89 lawmakers present.
The law provides jail time and fines for offenses such as filling in lakes or unlicensed dredging, but Water Resources Minister Lim Kean Hor told the Assembly that the law would not be applied retroactively.
Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphan asked Lim Kean Hor to request that Vietnamese authorities stop releasing excess water from the Yali Falls dam, which sits upstream of Ratanakkiri province on the Sesan river in Vietnam.
The excess water, released from the reservoir in the rainy season, kills fish and causes hardship in Cambodia, he said.
“We want a good friend to continue to be a good friend,” Monh Saphan said of Vietnam.
Lim Kean Hor said the government was already discussing the matter with Vietnamese officials and that Vietnam had agreed to build a reservoir to retain the extra water.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman Trinh Ba Cam said he was not personally aware of problems caused by the dam but added that Vietnam was acting to protect the environment.
“We must protect the environment,” he said. “If there is a problem, the two sides will work to solve the issue.”