Angkor: the ancient “hydraulic city” of Asia


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The increased demand for water coupled with severe monsoon flooding from 2009 to 2011, triggered a massive restoration of the old water system. Socheata Heng, who owns a guesthouse on the outskirts of Siem Reap, recalled the 2011 floods – the worst in the province in 50 years. “It caused so much damage,” she said. “The crops were destroyed, the communities had to be evacuated and water poured into my guesthouse. It was devastating.

Led by the APSARA National Authority, which is responsible for protecting the Angkor Archaeological Park, the restoration project has seen many barays and waterways of the hydraulic system renovated, including the 12 km Angkor Thom moat, the Baray western and the 10th century royal basin, Srah Srang. These efforts made it possible to fight against water shortages caused by the sharp increase in tourist numbers, and also to avoid the serious flooding that the province experienced between 2009 and 2011.

This means that today the vast system that dates back centuries continues to satisfy Siem Reap’s thirst by providing a constant supply of water, preventing destructive flooding, and providing the foundations that will maintain the sacred temples of Angkor. stable in the future.

“The renovation of the barays and water supply systems provide water for irrigation, so they are now part of the agrarian landscape today while helping to stabilize the temples,” Dr Evans said. . “It’s really amazing this water management system is still in use in Siem Reap.”

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