Cambodia Dredging Workshop Nears

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is studying the effects of bank erosion in the Mekong River during workshops taking place this week in Siem Reap.

Organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the workshops will be held April 18-21 (national level) and April 25-28 (sub-national level) to address the multiple causes of bank erosion, its assessment and approaches to preventing and remediating the negative effects of erosion.

The workshops will also highlight global best practices for navigational dredging and provide draft guidelines for Cambodian officials to consider in their efforts to reduce dredging-associated impacts along the Mekong River system. A report summarizing activities and outcomes will be shared at the conclusion of the workshops.

The Mekong River stretches for more than 400 kilometers across Cambodia, and is central to the nation’s transport and fisheries production.  It reaches a volume of 350 billion cubic meters and while the annual bed load is currently unknown, the river’s annual suspended sediment load of silt and clay has been estimated at 160 million tons.

Cambodia’s rivers are impacted by a host of human activities, such as deforestation of areas along rivers and uplands, the inflow of chemical and human waste, unplanned riverside development, and a substantial in-river sand mining industry.

Essential government services like navigational dredging can also have negative impacts if best practices are not implemented. Navigational dredging in Cambodia is conducted by the Royal Government of Cambodia under contract by commercial operators along the main stem Mekong from Phnom Penh south to the Vietnam border.

Navigation activities on inland waterways in the Kingdom of Cambodia have increased significantly over the last decade. Planned deepening of the Mekong River navigation channel in Cambodia will allow the regional operation of larger, more cost-efficient boats as well as sea-going vessels.

A deeper channel will also increase the cost-competitiveness of regional waterborne transport, stimulate the growth of traffic on the Mekong River System, facilitate increased international trade, and contribute to growth in the Cambodian economy.