Angkor and its water: heritage in danger

Paagera is an opportunity to share our experience
Published in the dossier of November 2017

The legendary city of Angkor, a jewel of UNESCO’s world heritage, is seriously threatened by extreme climate episodes and the overuse of water resources. Through the Paagera1 project, Veolia and the Bièvre Valley Intermunicipal Sanitation Authority (SIAVB), supported by the Veolia foundation, are combining their expertise to improve the management of the hydraulic system on which the site rests.

THOMAS JOLY, PRESIDENT OF SIAVB

“Veolia’s expertise and the resources implemented have allowed us to deploy an unprecedented flood management scheme in Bièvre. It has been a success, as our region has not been flooded for 25 years. The Paagera project is an opportunity to share our experience, coming up with solutions tailored to Angkor’s unique hydraulic system with our Cambodian partners. We are extremely proud to be assisting in this operation to restore water networks, in which not only environmental and heritage, but also sanitary, economic and tourism issues are at stake.”

In the Cambodian jungle, the capital of the former Khmer empire lies on an immense network of canals and basins that stopped functioning over the centuries. However, the floods that occurred in 2009 and 2011 have weakened this hydraulic system. Since 2013, the local authority responsible for preserving Angkor (APSARA) has invested in rehabilitating this environment, which has also been jeopardized by demographic pressure and mass tourism. A system for remotely managing the hydraulic structures had to be implemented to spread the flows of water across the year between the dry season and the rainy season. This is one of the challenges of the French-Cambodian Paagera project, which relies on the expertise of water and sanitation players2. The know-how developed by SIAVB and Veolia in hydraulic regulation in the Bièvre Valley provided an initial technical solution: the telemetry device deployed in 2014 now allows APSARA’s teams to act more effectively, anticipating the network’s regulation. In parallel, actions to promote better water and waste management will be developed in the villages around Angkor, which – just like this exceptional site – are exposed to the effects of climate change.

 

1 Project to improve sanitation and water management in the Angkor region.
2 The partnership brings together Apsara (Authority for the protection of the site and development of the Angkor region), Siem Reap province, AAA (Friends of Angkor Association), SIAVB and SIAAP (Greater Paris Interdepartmental Sanitation Authority).