Groundwater is utilized significantly throughout rural Cambodia because it is typically less contaminated with pathogens than surface water and provides sufficient water quantity for many domestic uses. The two figures below show the percentage of the population drinking groundwater in the dry season, broken down by tube wells (typically 15-80 meters deep) and dug wells (typically 3-15 meters deep) (National Institute of Statistics, National Census 2008).
Tube well water is heavily consumed in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces and is also higher in other provinces in central and northern Cambodia.
Dug well water is heavily consumed in Kampong Thom province and is high in most other provinces with the exception of Kandal, Prey Veng, and Svay Rieng. The next figure shows the breakdown of drinking water sources in the dry season for all of Cambodia (National Institute of Statistics, National Census 2008).
You can see that over 50% of Cambodians rely on groundwater for drinking in the dry season. Note that in the wet season most rural Cambodians begin harvesting and drinking rain water, but as you can see, most do not store enough water to last through the dry season (less than 1%). While groundwater is often separated from animal and human feces and disturbances at the surface, chemicals such as arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, and manganese may be present in groundwater which can cause health problems. Additionally, iron, chloride, hardness, and other parameters may show that the water may not taste, smell, or look acceptable. The table below summarizes the data from RDI’s groundwater quality surveillance program for samples collected from tube wells to-date (Kandal, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chnang Provinces).
1. Cambodian Drinking Water Quality Standard (CDWQS)
2. Manganese health standard of 0.4 mg/L from WHO
Subsequent province breakdowns can be accessed by clicking on the province of interest in the figure below: