Cambodia Drinking Water Quality Workshop II, 2005
This workshop was held between August 1-5; and August 8-9, 2005 and attended by 10 people from Ministry of Environment, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Institute of Technology of Cambodia, and Resource Development International – Cambodia. The objective of this workshop was to develop a drinking water quality assessment project within a group setting. In response to the 2004 workshop evaluations and input from RDIC we decided that this workshop would much more interactive and in essence, design a project from start to finish. Emphasis was placed on daily group discussions and consensus decision-making, the content of which was recorded on flip charts. While we provided training in possible drinking water quality assessment approaches (including different approaches to calculating a drinking water quality index and QA/QC considerations), the final project format largely was shaped by the Cambodian participants.
The workshop included more advanced training in the use of Arcview 3.2a. Several of the 2005 workshop participants had attended the 2004 workshop and we relied on them to act as "GIS mentors" for the new participants. This mentoring approach facilitated a rapid learning curve that allowed us to move quickly from basic to advanced GIS skills. The group had considerable interest in the three days of GIS and Global Positioning System (GPS) training, to the point that Dr. Tang spent extra hours in the evening to address questions.
After a review of drinking water standards (including Dr. Sampson's discussion of the Cambodian situation), the methods by which standards can be developed, and different concepts related to a Drinking Water Quality Index (DWQI), the group collectively decided to develop a DWQI specific to needs in Cambodia (following the Canada Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) approach). They decided that the following water quality parameters should be included the Cambodia Index: arsenic, fluoride, E. coli, nitrate, turbidity, pH, hardness, and pesticides. The group developed standard operating procedures (that including training in laboratory techniques) and designed a field data sheet that also included qualitative assessment of water color, odor and taste; and observations of relative sanitary conditions.
The methodologies developed in the workshop were tested and later modified during a pilot project (sampling of 15 drinking water sources) conducted during the week of the workshop. The Cambodia Index was put to the test by the team as they collected and analyzed samples from 15 sites in the district of Kean Svay. The index values ranged from 25 to 100. Unfortunately, it was not surprising that some of the wells had arsenic levels of 500 ppb (Cambodian standards are 50 ppb), but two of the wells also had excessively high E. coli levels (10,000 colonies/100mL). The best water quality (index value of 100) was observed from a rainwater harvesting system installed for a household.
The "guided" approach proved to be a huge success, providing an opportunity for Cambodians to take responsibility for the outcome of the project. The workshop also provided us with an opportunity to better work with Cambodian participants. For example: we observed that the participants were often reluctant to make decisions either because the information was incomplete or felt they lacked the expertise; participants had difficulty with “expert opinion”, preferring real data; and participants had difficulty in accepting “hypothetical examples”, asking “are these numbers real”?
Subsequent to our workshop, the Cambodian staff at RDIC continued sampling drinking water sources and to date has sampled thousands of wells in Kandal, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, and Kampong Chnang Provinces (http://www.rdic.org/images/dwqi/kandal_tube_well_location/DWQI-Health_small.jpg). Manganese also was added to the list of parameters being assessed due to concern about high levels in some villages.
Images from the workshop can be viewed at http://view.buffalostate.edu/main.php?g2_itemId=36470.