The once spectacular Chhay Broy waterfall used to be among Pursat province’s largest and deepest cascades at 50m high and 20m wide, attracting tourists with its beautiful forest landscape, large pool and abundant wildlife.
But all this changed when a Chinese-funded 120-megawatt hydroelectric power dam was built in 2010, as the water flow feeding Chhay Broy significantly slowed as a result of the Stung Atai hydroelectric dam sitting upstream.
Local resident Seng Meng Kry, whose home near the waterfall acts as a pitstop for travellers to relax and take refreshment before moving on to Koh Kong’s provincial capital or the Cardamom Mountains’ Osoam community, told The Post that the steady stream of tourists enjoying previously strong and energetic waterfall had begun to dry up.
Meng Kry said the dam not only lessens the water supply but also presents other dangers.
“In rainy season, there is plenty of flowing water, but this is also very dangerous as we do not know when the dam will open its gates and flood us downstream. Tourists continue to visit and bathe in the waters. But most challenging for us is that the dam opening could claim lives at anytime [by washing people away]."
“In fact, a foreign tourist almost lost his life while bathing in the stream. The level of water rose rapidly and took him away. A few hours later we saw him riding a motodop and we said that God had helped him,” he said.
Sin Thea, provincial tourism department deputy head, told The Post that Chhay Broy remains a huge, deep waterfall that regularly attracts many tourists. He added that his department had talked with the Chinese company operating the dam instructing them to inform those downstream before opening its floodgates.
“Now the company always tells us when the dam’s gates will open. But it happens mostly during rainy season,” Meng Kry confirmed.
Chhay Broy waterfall is located in Pursat province’s Chhay Louk village, in Veal Veng district’s O’Som commune.
From the crossroads on National Road 48 between Koh Kong and Osoam, travellers will need to use an off-road truck or pick-up as road conditions are not very good.