A newly renovated dam at the Trapaing Thmar reservoir will allow farmers in Banteay Meanchey province to better irrigate their fields and avert the effects of drought as experienced across the country this year, officials said.
Renovations on the dam which cost $1.7 million will enable the reservoir to retain enough water to irrigate some 11,000 hectares of rice paddy during the rainy season and about 7,000 hectares in the dry season, officials said.
“Every year, farmers relied on the sky to pour water down so we could farm. But if we’ve got a strong dam to keep enough rainwater in the reservoir, we no longer worry about the lack of water,” said An Sum, Banteay Meanchey first deputy governor.
The Trapaing Thmar reservoir was built in 1978.
In the 1980s it was the site of continual battles between the government and Khmer Rouge troops, said Veng Sokhon, secretary of state for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.
During the recent renovations, completed in October, workers discovered about 400 wartime land mines and bombs, Veng Sokhon said.
Renovation funds were collected from sales of equipment and materials, such as paper and computers, donated to the government by Japan, he said.
The ministry, however, is seeking an additional $1 million to $2 million to fix other Khmer Rouge-built canals in the region, Veng Sokhon said.
The dam has had a positive effect on the local environment, said Nhan Bunthorn, chief of the Ministry of Agriculture’s crane conservation unit.
“When more water exists in the reservoir, wildlife and fish will be more bountiful,” he said.
Nhan Bunthorn added that the reservoir is the feeding ground for more than 180 species of birds, including 18 types of endangered cranes.
Poor environmental preservation in neighboring Oddar Meanchey province, however, has driven deer to migrate to Banteay Meanchey, Nhan Bunthorn said.
This year, 62 deer were spotted in the region, up from 13 last year, he said.
“Remarkably, we have seen more elk deer this year than previous years because illegal logging and land erosion dried up swamps deep in the jungles,” he said.