Flooding in the Four Faces

Four Faces
And a  70s planning version.
70s Planning

Source: Molyvann, Vann. Modern Khmer Cities. Phnom Penh, Cambodia : Reyum ; [Chicago, IL?] : Sales and distribution, USA, Art Media Resources, c2003

“Phnom Penh remains very vulnerable to flooding. The city, first established on the high riverbanks, has extended into lower plains lying behind these banks which are actually below flood levels.These low-lying areas have been protected by the creation of successive concentric dikes. Phnom Penh is one of a long line of Khmer cities built on, or even incorporating a river. Already at the time of Funan, the city of Angkor Borei had channeled one branch of a river to flow within its walls. Later, Hariharalya became the first Khmer hydraulic city. The city of Lovek also integrated water nto its urban plan. Because all of these cities were established at the edge of flood plains, they were exposed to possible flooding.”

“In the plain of the “Four Faces”, National Route 5 provides one dike against the floodwaters to the north of the city. Flood waters generally remain to the east of National Route 5 from Kompong, Chhnang to Kompong Luoung. The flood waters extend to the west of National Route 5 from Kompong Luong to the dike of Kab Srov. To the west, the flood plan rises quite quickly toward the terraces of the upper plans. Several canals (Ponhea Leu, Prek Taten, Prek Phnou) channel flood waters north of Phnom Penh. The dike of Kab Srov was not maintained over the two decades of war and insecuirty. This dike was only restored in 1999 and it remains a delicate and important are for the protection of the northern city. To the south of Phnom Penh, the flood waters stretch fifteen to twenty kilometers from the Basaac River towards National Route 3.”

“For Phnom Penh, a heavy rainy season coupled with abnormally heavy water runoff from the snow melt in Tibet and exceptionally heavy rains in the mountains of Szechwan, upper Laos, and the Annamite mountain chain, could provoke disastrous floods for the entire Mekong Valley. If the waters surpass twelve meters above sea level, the fields behind the rivers banks and the city as a whole will easily flood. On the other hand, Phnom Penh and its surroundings are also subject to very dry seasons in which ground water levels drop throughout the region, destroying crops planted on the river banks and drying up ponds and canals. Droughts and floods are two aspects of the same problem which a well-managed hydraulic system can avert.”

“What measures can be taken to protect the area of Phnom Penh from flooding? The maintenance of dikes of Phnom Penh, as well as the preservation of the National Routes established on the banks and dikes, are crucial to the containment and control of flood water. Canals created after the Protectorate have been calibrated to absorb the flood waters and to allow excess ground water to drain towards the river. This hydraulic system has been virtually without maintenance over the last three decades. Indeed, it is astonishing that the system still functions today given these decades of neglect. The capacity to oversee and manage this hydraulic system must be re-established, supported and expanded.”

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