Advantages of Mekong River in Phnom Penh

By SUN Narin and LAY Rattana

Cambodia has two large rivers including Tonle Sap and Mekong river which are the two main water source. Cambodia’s 500-meter Mekong flows passing five provinces such as Kratie, Stung Treng, Kampong Cham, Prey Veng and Kandal, so it can benefit a lot people living along the river. Moreover, people living in Phnom Penh and Kandal can make use of water for their daily consumption and business.

Every day, canoes and ships always take the guests to enjoy seeing the view of Tonle Sap in front of the Royal Palace to Bassac and Mekong River. Fresh air, slight wind with beautiful songs and the nice scenery of Phnom Penh at night attract the local and international tourists to take boat to see the view on the river. Besides tourism and giving pleasure to the tourists, Mekong River is beneficial to people living in Kandal province including every day uses, crop and farm watering and fishing.

Sim Mith, 39 years old, is a resident living adjacent to the river in Svay Chruom village, said that she has been living here for nearly 10 years and makes use of water every day. “The river is advantageous to me. I can take it for cooking rice, drinking, washing and watering my crop,” she said.

Lim Sokha, 39, living about 100 meter distance from the river in the same village said that he takes water for treating and selling to the villagers of some 400 families. “It really benefits me a lot. I pump 400 to 500 cubic meter every day. The water is clear, and the ministry says that it is quality,” he said.

He adds that due to the fact that the water is clear, so he finds it easy to treat, but he says that the water this year is declining comparing to previous year, which can impact people’s fishing.

Reung Meun, 58 years old living near the river in a hut consists of 20 people, says that he has been doing fishing for more than 10 years, adding that it can ease his living condition, but complaining that this year fishing is down since the water goes down unusually. “I take it to plant my crop. Last year I can fish up to 1 ton a day, but now the water is declining, so there is lack of fish. I can fish only 200 to 300 kilogram fish,” he said.

In addition, the river is full of sand which businesspeople in Phnom Penh can pump it for selling. But what is more important that this Mekong River is the source for water consumption throughout the city.

Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority PPWSA pumps water from 3 rivers including Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong for treatment. The total amount of water is 30, 0000 cubic meter and 13, 0000 cubic meters of which is from Mekong River.

Ek Sonn Chan, the secretary General of PPWSA says that Mekong River is better in term of water quality. “Mekong river is the early and original river which brings water to Tonle Sap and Bassac so it has better quality. It has less dust,” he said. However, people and critics the quantity of water of water is down and the quality is changing because of dams.

But PPWSA Secretary General Ek Sonn Chan says that the increase of the water quality with dust is seasonal, adding that there is no problem for us, but it is beneficial. According to the recent report from Mekong commission, approximately 300,000 tons of fish was estimated to lose per year due to the dam construction. Cambodia’s government is allowing China to study the feasibility of other 4 dams which people and critics say that it can affect the river, but Prime Minister Hun Sen said in November last year that it did affect.


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