Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology officials are cooperating with their Chinese counterparts to improve the irrigation system along the Prek Tnaot River in Kampong Speu province to prevent flooding.
Chan Yutha, the ministry’s secretary of state and spokesman, told The Post that the stretch of the river is notoriously prone to flood as it runs through mountains, with the Prek Tnaot River Flood Protection and Irrigation System aimed at resolving this.
Yutha said Japanese experts had in the 1960s visited a site in Kampong Speu’s Oral district to look into building a dam to relieve the problem, before political instability eventually saw the study halted.
As there were now tens of thousands of families living there, the ministry had shifted the construction of the dam to another location, he added.
“We are restoring the Prek Tnaot River and expanding it to increase the water release capacity. We are working with China on this.
“The site is at the lower part of Prek Tnaot River, with the restoration starting from the lower part of the Prampi Makara dam at Kampong Tuol along National Road 3 in Anlong Romiet commune of Kandal province’s Kandal Steung district,” he said.
According to Yutha, in order to prevent the Prek Tnaot River from flooding, the ministry has constructed two reservoirs in Oral district, with a third currently under study.
The Tasal reservoir in the district’s Tasal commune has a capacity of 154 million cubic metres. Construction began in 2011, with the first phase completed in July 2014.
The Sva Hab reservoir behind the Chamlong Tieu dam in Chambak commune of Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district can store some 130 million cubic metres of water.
The Khleach river reservoir project has recently been inspected by a team of experts from the ministry and the provincial administration, with funding being sought. It would have similar capacity to the Tasal reservoir.
Yutha said that while in the past floodwaters in the area could flow freely along its course, which was wide and free of congestion, development and infrastructure had constricted the flow of the river.
Yutha said the maximum water flow level of Prek Tnaot River is 1,350 cubic metres per second, while the river is currently capable of releasing only 900 cubic metres of water.
Meanwhile, Phnom Penh municipal water resources department director Mao Bunthoeun said that work had began on resolving Prek Tnaot flooding.
The department and Phnom Penh authorities had with the support of China cleared up the river at congested and shallow areas, widening bottleneck areas to improve water flow. He said all the work had yet to be completed and will resume in the next dry season.
“We have built a dam, 7,900m long and 1m in height, in the river from the Kantuot area in Barkou commune of Kandal province’s [Kandal Stung district] to Prek Chrey Bridge in Dangkor district to prevent flooding,” Bunthoeun said on June 7.
“The Chinese side has also given support with the construction of a concrete embankment along the riverside to prevent flooding during rainy season.”
Chinese experts will continue to work with authorities during this rainy season to monitor the situation, particularly at high-risk areas, while the water resources ministry has also prepared machinery and materials to tackle any flooding of the Prek Tnaot River, he added.