Water firms told to expand network or lose license

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A local water treatment plant. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government yesterday threatened to withdraw the licenses of private water operators that fail to expand their operations in rural areas and are not contributing to enhancing access to clean water in the country.

Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Industry and Handicraft, said water companies that are not expanding their networks into rural areas are failing to fulfill the responsibilities they acquired when they earn their licenses, and stand in the way of the government’s goal to provide access to clean water for everyone.

Speaking at a seminar in Phnom Penh, the minister said, “If private water supply operators want to keep their licenses alive, they have to expand the water networks. If not, we will withdraw their license starting next year.

“Do not force me to find the new suppliers to compete with you. I do not want to do that. I gave you a monopoly license to operate the business, but you do not do it, so I will withdraw it,” he said.

According to the minister, there are now 240 private water companies with a license to supply water. Cambodia has 13 public water utilities, he added. Together, both types of entities cover the water needs of 5 million households, or 30 percent of the population.

“With our economy growing rapidly, we’ve seen an increasing in demand for clean water, and we expect this demand to increase to 0.8 million cubic metres per day by 2025, and to one million cubic metres per day by 2030.

“This will place more pressure on our water utility facilities to provide efficient and reliable water access,” Mr Prasidh said.

During the seminar the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts and Grundfos, a sector-leading Danish pump manufacturer, agreed to boost cooperation to reduce the cost of water and increase access to clean water in Cambodia.

The commitment was sealed with the exchange of a letter of intent, which included an endorsement of Grundfos by the government, praising its role in reducing non-revenue water and boosting water management efficiency.

“We are excited to work with an industry leader like Grundfos to improve Cambodia’s access to clean, quality water. We believe Grundfos’ innovative technology and solutions will have significant impact on our water management systems.” Mr Prasidh said.

Leong Chee Khuan, Grundfos’ South Asia managing director, said, “Grundfos is committed to helping Cambodia strengthen the quality, reliability and sustainability of its water supply.

“We are pleased to work with the Cambodian government in its mission to achieve greater water security by levering our leading industry innovation.”

He said that to tackle Cambodia’s water challenges, Grundfos has already introduced a pilot project in Takeo province.

Mr Khuan said the project boasts an intelligent water distribution system which automatically adjusts the water flow using remote sensors, reducing excessive pressure in the water pipes. This, in turn, limits water leakages and losses, minimising costs and energy use.

“To encourage the adoption of this new technology, Grundfos also created a new business model to remove the barrier of the usual upfront investment. The plant operator is paying for the pump system through annual instalments, which are financed by the money saved on energy and water bills due to the equipment upgrade,” Mr Khuan said

“The strategy of implementing the innovative solution together with the business model helped the plant save more than 270,000 kWh in electricity and around 200,000 cubic metres of water per year, with a projected payback period of two and a half years,” he added.

The Daun Keo Clean Water Supply Operator, Grundfos’ local partner in the project, said that thanks to the technology supplied by the Danish company they have increased energy and water savings by 15 percent.

“Currently, we distribute between 150,000 to 200,000 cubic metres of water in Daun Keo city per month. However, with demand for clean water rising rapidly, we plan to expand our network in the future,” said the company’s general manager, Sok Por.

“During our first year working with Grundfos, we have saved nearly $28,000 in costs,” Mr Por added.

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