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Agencies Worry Over Cambodian Rivers

International and local non-governmental agencies are concerned that the building of hydroelectric dams in China, Laos and Vietnam could adversely affect Cambodia’s waterways.

“I think in the future, Cambodia might have a big problem, because when they build the dam or construct some other things in China, Laos or Vietnam,” Mickey Sampson, a country director for the Resource Development International Cambodia told VOA in Khmer in Washington.

Water that flows from the Himalayas flows into Cambodia, bringing to the Tonle Sap river mud and soil,” Sampson said. But damming the Mekong river can reduce the flow of fertile mud and change the diversity of wildlife in river systems, he said.

Meanwhile, the runoff of fertilizers and pesticides by Cambodian farmers into rivers is also hurting the waterways, he said.

Sampson said his organization has had in place for three years water monitoring systems, “so when they build the dam, then we can see clearly that the quality of water and diversity are changing in Cambodia.”

Minister of Water Resources Lim Kien Hor told VOA Khmer Cambodia was committed to environmental issues and was watching dam construction on the Mekong carefully.

“Cambodia is paying a lot of attention to the water issue,” he said. “Laos plans to build a dam, and we are interested to have a talk with them about this.”

The Khmer Association for Rural Development Cambodia, based in Kratie province, worries that the construction of hydroelectric dams could cause serious flooding and destroy thousands of hectares of farmland.