The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has begun to generate fee revenue from wastewater treatment plants while governor Kuoch Chamroeun calls on all residents to pay for wastewater treatment services in order to protect the environment.

“We want to maintain a good environment, but we also need our people’s support as well because when they have some understanding about making contributions to care of the environment, they will be willing to pay. That willingness is profitable for all,” he said.

According to Chamroeun, there are two wastewater treatment plants that have been built in the province and the first has the capacity to filter 5,200 cubic metres of wastewater per day while the second has the capacity to filter 7,200 cubic metres of wastewater per day.

The third wastewater treatment plant is under construction and is scheduled to be finished in October. Once completed, it will have the capacity to filter 20,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day.

Chamroeun said that in order to support the operation of the first two wastewater treatment plants, the provincial administration spends about 3 billion riel ($730,800) per year, but fees collected for this purpose amount to only about 400 million riel per year.

Therefore, the provincial administration is conducting a legal study and push the collection of fees from wastewater producers, as well as calling on all citizens to participate in paying the fees.

According to the provincial governor, the main purpose of the government’s expenditures on the wastewater treatment plants is to maintain good environments on the beaches, because without these treatment plants the wastewater will flow directly onto the beaches with unpleasant consequences such as bad smells.

At the same time, he called on the people of Preah Sihanouk to connect their homes and businesses to the sewer system properly, including one pipe for rainwater drainage and one for sewage, so it can be treated.

“Please separate the connection of the sewage network and the rainwater network at your house or construction site as we have two different systems and they cannot be linked together,” he said.

Chamroeun added that if the two networks are connected together, it wastes the filtering capacity and is costly as well.

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said that the main concern in Preah Sihanouk province is to keep the water and beaches clean and to protect the marine water from pollution.

“If we do not have a clean and beautiful beach, then there will be no tourists visiting the province.

“The government has made great efforts to build large wastewater treatment plants. In the future, there will be one large wastewater treatment plant, but for now we have built three wastewater treatment plants and it’s really important that all wastewater flow through these treatment plants. This is a matter of life and death,” he said.

Ly Rith, CEO of the X-Water Technology Co Ltd, which is responsible for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant in the province, said the plant uses the latest MABR [membrane aerated biofilm reactor] technology from Israel, which costs less than treatments with the old technology.

Rith said the construction of wastewater treatment plants is contributing to reducing the health issues from water resources in addition to protecting the environment and safeguarding tourism.

According to his company’s experts, the three wastewater treatment plants together account for 70 per cent of Sihanoukville’s wastewater, meaning they still need to build additional capacity to handle the total outflow.