Siem Reap authorities research ways to clean town’s main river

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Siem Reap town’s civil society organisations and citizens have criticised the release of wastewater from guesthouses, hotels and restaurants into Siem Reap River, which has contaminated its water.

Authorities are looking into measures to improve the main river of the Kingdom’s principal historic tourism city.

Suos Narin, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said on Tuesday that authorities had previously warned the offending businesses following a public outcry.

“In some cases, the owners of hotels and businesses in Siem Reap town release wastewater from their premises into the river. Under the leadership of the previous provincial governor, he ordered a halt to releasing wastewater into the river by diverting it into another sewage system,” he said.

Narin said there is a water gate upriver.

When authorities need the water to rise, they close the gate to retain water, and during water festival – the Kingdom’s boat racing festival – they open the gate.

“As this is the dry season, there isn’t much water flowing. When the river’s waters no longer flow, its water is no longer clean and it becomes dirtier,” he said.

As Siem Reap province has the most tourism potential, Narin expressed his regret that the city could experience such pollution.

He said Siem Reap River should be clean again and made attractive for tourists.

“We don’t want to see wastewater flow into the river. Most hotels [are built along it], and in the evening tourists go for walks there. If it stinks, it will affect the number of tourists who come to visit.”

‘Bad smell’

Siem Reap town villager Sam Oun on Tuesday also said Siem Reap River’s water has become much dirtier and has developed a stench. Authorities have closed the water gate, so the river currently does not flow through the waterways originating from the Kulen Mountain as it did previously.

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