Officials Set Ambitious Clean Water Targets

Phnom Penh will gain four new water treatment plants and 9 out of 10 Cambodians will have access to state-supplied clean water by 2025 under a proposal put forward by officials on Wednesday at the inauguration of a new facility in Phnom Penh.

Speaking at the $61-million Niroth 2 Water Treatment Plant in Chbar Ampov district, Prime Minister Hun Sen also instructed the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) to purchase infrastructure from companies that supply communes formerly located in Kandal province that have since become part of the city.

“We need to try our best to buy clean water supply from private companies to ensure one fixed price, because some communes that have just moved into [Phnom Penh’s] administration still use water that has different prices from Phnom Penh’s residents,” he said.

Oum Sitha, a spokesman for the Industry and Handicrafts Ministry, said the only private water supplier in the area was a company that belonged to tycoon Kok An.

“Before, our government did not have capacity to increase the supply to those areas,” he said. “The government’s policy is to allow private investment on clean water supply in any areas having issues with water.”

Mr. Sitha said it was too soon to discuss the cost of any buyout, as negotiations with the company were ongoing.

The plant inaugurated on Wednesday, funded jointly by France’s development agency and PPWSA, will produce an extra 130,000 cubic meters of water a day, according to Industry Minister Cham Prasidh.

Together with the first stage of the plant, which began producing a similar flow of water in January 2013, the facility is the largest in the country and will boost PPWSA’s total capacity in the city to 560,000 cubic meters per day.

“In order to respond to people’s need for clean water supply, which has grown sharply, the Phnom Penh Autonomous Water Supply Authority has invested in increasing the water supply system continuously,” Mr. Prasidh said.

Those plans ultimately include the rest of the country, guided by a goal of seeing 90 percent of the country with state-supplied clean water by 2025, he said. In the capital alone, demand is expected to jump to 1 million cubic meters a day by 2030, he added.

To meet demand in the expanding city, Mr. Prasidh told the crowd that the government plans to build at least four water treatment plants in Phnom Penh in the near future.

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