Water in Phnom Penh – the lack of public parks and formal wastewater treatment

Public Parks + Open Space

Another significant reasons contribute to the severe situation of flooding is because the lack of public parks and open space. Since there is no open space or park space, therefore, there is no way to absorb rainy season waters. The inner districts are only a series of formal parks which are home to decorative and formally planted, rather than usable water features.

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1)Phnom Penh 4 inner khans. Public Parks and green space shown in green     2)Parks in Phnom Penh

Wastewater Treatment

There is no proper or formal wastewater treatment in the city. Instead, sewage and other wastewaters from households, businesses and industries combine in a series of covered and open canals that flow through the city and combine with seasonal rainwater and floods. (van der Hoek, 2005)
Boeung Cheung Ek (BCE) Lake is the largest of these water bodies, 5 kilometers south of the city center. The lake not only receives more than two-third of the wastewater from the city along with untreated effluent from 3,000 small and large scale industrial enterprises, but also provides water for vegetation within the city. Therefore these wastewater fed aquatic vegetables are, despite their potential health risks, very important in supplying the city’s vegetable markets and thus meeting the demands of the growing population of Phnom Penh. However, as these lakes are infilled, not only the city’s wastewater is discharged more rapidly into the Mekong without treatment, but also the needs for a more organized system grows.

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3) The Street 105 sewage canal approaches overflow during a heavy rain mixing sewage, gray water, and trash

4) Vegetables are cultivated on the wetlands in the south of Phnom Penh.


  1. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut – Samakum Teang Tnaut . a Cambodia Urban NGO. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://teangtnaut.org/?lang=en
  2. Flooding in Phnom Penh City – Sahmakum Teang Tnaut. (2014, October 3). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://teangtnaut.org/flooding-phnom-penh-city-2/?lang=en
  3. City of Water. (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from https://cityofwater.wordpress.com/

2 Comments on “Water in Phnom Penh – the lack of public parks and formal wastewater treatment

  1. Apart from understanding the reasons for the severe situation of flooding in Phnom Penh, I think it is also nice to know if there is any treatment taken by the authority that may be related to the public parks or open space which are now just a decoration. It will be interesting to know if the problem and the solution are tied together.

  2. Thank you for your comment. The situation in Phnom Penh is quite intense right now. Since not only the infilled lakes problem and the eviction issue, but also because of the lack of policy to cope with the flooding problem. (no specific treatment for the lack of park issue here)

    Take Boeng Kak lake as an example, a Chinese firm has begun construction on the first major development projected on the filled-in lake.

    Beijing-based Graticity Real Estate Development company started construction last month on One Park, a commercial and residential development billed as “Sophisticated Urban Living” after purchasing 20 hectares from Shukaku, Mr. Meng Khin’s firm, according to Hong Xin, customer manager for Graticity

    “One Park is our first investment project in Cambodia,” Mr. Hong said on Tuesday. “We have 20 hectares [in the Boeng Kak area]. Currently, we are developing phase one on 7.9 hectares, which will be flats and condos. Phase two will include a five-star hotel, shopping mall, high rise offices.”

    As we can see, those infilled lakes are currently developed for commercial usage. Developers are merely mesmerized by the benefit that they can earn once the five-star hotel, shopping mall etc are built.

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