The government plans to build a waste water treatment plant and drainage system in Siem Reap, a Ministry of Tourism official said Monday.
“It is a small project, but it is very important for Siem Reap,” said Thong Khon, Tourism Ministry secretary of state and head of the National Tourism Infrastructure Steering Committee.
As Siem Reap, Cambodia’s top tourist destination, expands, officials have become increasingly concerned with the town’s water supply and waste management systems. Most hotels have dug private wells for their water needs, but do not dispose of waste water properly. As septic tanks fill up, the contaminated water slowly seeps into the wells, most of which are 35 meters deep. To avoid mixing with waste water from the hotels, wells should be at least 70 meters deep, Thong Khon said.
“We worry that drinking water could be not safe to drink if waste water seeps into water in the well,” he said.
Funds for the nearly $3.5 million project, which is slated to begin around June, will come from a $20 million loan issued by the Asian Development Bank last year. The rest of the money is being used to renovate the airports in Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces and reconstruct the road linking Phnom Penh and Dangkao district’s Cheung Ek commune, where the “Killing Fields” memorial is located.
Thong Khon also warned that unregulated waste water is emitted from Siem Reap’s many hotels could have alarming results.
“It can make Angkor Wat collapse,” Thong Khon said.
Suy San, Siem Reap’s second deputy governor, agreed with him and said that fixing the town’s water supply and waste management systems is crucial.
“I’m really worried that we really don’t have enough water for our people,” he said.
In 2002, the Japan International Cooperation Agency started work on a $10 million project creating a water supply that should help 65 percent of Siem Reap province’s residents. It is expected to be completed by 2010.
“I think that hotels may close their wells when we have a new water supply,” Suy San said.