Impact Assessment

l-r: matt barber, tim weiss, steve forbes, jess miller

Since the major milestone of the watergate completion, the project is progressing towards yet another interesting phase called the impact assessment. Over the past few months, we had several brainstorming sessions on how to gauge the impacts in which the completed watergate and restored reservoir will have on the village and villagers for the next few years.

We met up with Steve Forbes a few weeks ago to share some of our initial thoughts on planning and implementation of the impact assessment. Steve have worked with many other projects that have implemented their own assessment. Additionally, his own dissertation involves some of these projects as case studies. It was interesting to hear some of these other approaches and learn how impact assessments are often project specific, and requires some adjusting to better suit the conditions of another project.


A House for Mr. Trau Kod

We first met Mr. Trau Kod last year during the embankment repair. Now that the watergate has been completed, Boc Kron built Mr. Trau Kod a more permanent house so he can provide protection over the resevior.


Angkorian reservoir revived

About a month and a half ago, Erica Goldberg from the Phnomn Penh Post wanted to write about the Opening Ceremony that was to take place that next day. When she met up with us, she learned a great deal more about the project itself, inspiring her to write not just about the ceremony, but to also follow up with another story about the project itself. She's kept her word, and had an article posted in today's paper. Take a read of today's article.....


Another Reservoir Photo

Here is one of Jenn's photos of the reservoir on our first day back to the site.


Opening Ceremony Part 2

The opening ceremony was amazing. Over 600 people attending, flags running along the completed embankment, ribbons covering the watergate. It was incredible.
The ceremony started about 45 minutes late because the Deputy Provincial Governor, shown above, arrived late. Speeches were made by Someth, Narith, Tobias, wiL and myself. The westerner speeches were translated into Khmer by Chai. When the Deputy Provincial Governor started his speech he made a last second request for Chai to translate his Khmer speech into English so that the westerners in attendance could understand. Chai looked a little flustered but really didn't have a choice and proceeded with the impromptu translation.

The Governor's speech was interesting. He had a prepared written speech in front of him but began his speech by announcing that he would not be reading the prepared speech but would just talk about the project. He proceeded to ramble on for 30 minutes about the project, about the wealth of Americans, about how the villagers need to request additional projects from us and then he committed to build a road from the Balang Commune to the Commune north of the site. At one point he asked the villagers to raise their hand if they were interested in Human Translation building a secondary school in Balang then turned to Tobias and asked him to build a secondary school.

After the speeches, we all walked along the embankment for the watergate ribbon cutting. Seeing all of the people at the watergate was definitely my favorite part of the ceremony. The site has been an isolated place for the majority of the project and to see all of these friends, colleagues and villagers at the watergate was incredible.

It was extremely hot that day so as soon as the ceremony was complete the site cleared out pretty quick. The HT and EWB crews hung out for a bit while Jenn and Chai did a quick site review. It wasn't until this point that I noticed the sign that was hung up at the back of the stage (shown above).


Still can't believe the reservoir is retaining water again.



It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the passing of a dear member of the EWB team, the Kite Ariel Photography (KAP) kite. On a trip to the flooded forest, the kite took a nose dive into the Tonle Sap, the string snapped and none of us cared enough to jump in after it. wiL was actually complaining the day before that he wanted to get a bigger kite. But we certainly have some fond memories of running around the site trying to get that thing into the air.

Monitoring Wells

Now that the reservoir can retain water again, we need to monitor the flow of water through the embankment.

So during this last trip we began the installation of a monitoring well than can be used to measure the depth of water at a particular location. The diagram above is what a monitoring well should look like. Water is supposed to seep into the pipe without the fine soil clogging the perforations in the pipe. Then you can take off the cap and measure the water depth.

So we embarked on another fun Cambodian adventure of improvised technology. This is a photo of wiL cutting the perforation slits into the PVC pipe in front of the Human Translation office.

We used our old hand auger to dig the hole, Jenn picked out this beautiful purple synthetic fabric at the old market that we used for a filter fabric. Then we used sand left over from the concrete construction to pack around the PVC pipe.

Finally, we mixed the concrete on site and poured the pad around the top of the well. Chai helped us install this one monitoring well so he will be able to install the 8 additional wells required in the near future.


Please Protect This Water Gate

Chai painted this sign onto the watergate. It translates as "Please protect this watergate".


When it rains....it monsoons

This year's rainy season seems to stretch a little longer than usual, according to some of the locals. It's been raining, on average, about an inch or so per day.
Most of the time, we are chased away from the site by a rainstorm, after having done most of our day's work, and scurrying to pack up and leave before getting drenched. There are times, however, we were simply forced to work through it...
...taking breaks in our makeshift haven.



The KAP unit takes launch again, trying to capture images of the reservoir and completed watergate from the sky.

Monks In a Trunk

A comment made by Jenn Lohr, when we were planning on picking up several monks from HRND and Wat Trach, on our way to the opening ceremony. During the ride, i had a long discussion with Sareeta (front right), who expressed his gratitude in the dam. He explained how many villagers will benefit greatly from the dam, including his very own family from the PropKot village.
Hearing such stories directly from the ones who grew up from the village definitely puts many things in better perspectives.



A large portion of the road to Trau Kod (the site) have changed since we've last been here about 9 months ago. Apparently, a Thailand company has proposed, and are currently building, a road from Siem Riep directly into Bangkok. This road used to be riddled with deep pot holes, and barely wide enough for one oxcart, thus, causing our trip to be an hour and a half long. Now, our commute is within the hour.

Additionally, the road is now often entertained with the sight of school kids making their way to the Wat Trach school. This school was part of the literacy program directed by Human Translation, and recently implemented a few months ago. It has been very succesful in bringing many local villagers of various ages to come to the school.
Changes such as these clearly indicates the growth of the community.

Read All About It

The day after the ceremony, the Phnomn Penh Post had an article about the dam project. The journalist, Erica Goldberg, had met up with us a few days earlier to learn of the project.


Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was an amazing experience. Over 600 attended, including many villagers, community leaders, and the provincial government. They came to share their gratitude to all who have helped made their vision a reality. Through their speeches, they extended their thanks to all who were not present, acknowledging the many more people that were involved on this large project. This note of thanks was definitely also intended to all the EWB-NYC members.

The event concluded with a ribbon cutting at the watergate. As everyone walked towards the gate, school kids lined along the embankment applauding. The experience was joyful, and absolutely surreal.


Let There Be Water

We visited the site yesterday, and were excited to see the reservoir partially filled with water. It was definitely an amazing sight.


Rivalry at Thai Border

Modern conflict near ancient ruins
photo and article from the BBC

In recent news, military breakout at the Thai/Cambodia border claimed two soldiers. Events as such have posed small delays on the Dam project in the past, often postponing meetings, review of our work, and/or obtaining approvals to proceed on some tasks.


Milestone Gala Photo Catalog

Photos exhibited at the Milestone Gala can also be purchased. Put one on your wall today!


Milestone Gala

The Milestone Gala was a blast last night! The first event of its kind for the EWB-NY chapter, this event had set a tone of great appreciation to our sponsors. Displays of photos, small scale dam model, slideshow of construction photos, and other EWB-NY projects kept our sponsors entertained and helped them realize what their support had helped us achieved - both in the project, and in the chapter. With good food and wine, music by Dengue Fever, and a lottery of everything from free bread for a year, to free Yankee tickets, we all wished the event didn't have to end.
One of the display was the KAP jig suspended above the KAP photos. The remote controller was passed around for everyone to experiment with. Take a look at the photos of their experience.


Milestone Gala

join us at the Milestone Gala
Thursday, Sept. 18th 7:30pm-11pm
Peter Cooper Suite, 8th Floor
Cooper Union
Foundation Building
7 East 7th Street, NY, NY

The recent completion of the watergate structure marks a major milestone not only in the Cambodia Water Dam Project, but in the Engineers Without Borders-New York City Chapter as well.
Join us at the Milestone Gala as we say "THANK YOU" to all the supporters who have made this work a reality!


The 2008 HT Fundraiser

Last Sunday, Human Translation hosted another extremely successful fundraiser in Napa Valley, CA. There was a opera concert in a wine cave, a delicious Cambodian dinner and a finally a live auction. HT had been working on the preparation for this event for the past year and it was amazing to witness everything come together so successfully.

Needless to say, wiL and I thought it was "pretty good". Here are some more photos.


NVR Article

There is a great article in the Napa Valley Register about the history of the project and the upcoming Human Translation fundraiser. Last years HT fundraiser was a huge success and without the enormous generosity of the attendants we would not have been able to complete the project.


One Star Turn

courtesy of Bouny Te

We ran into a surprisingly large problem before starting the downstream path excavation. A Cambodian One Star General had purchased the land downstream of the reservoir and did not want the stream to run through his land. It took quite a few discussions and some negotiating but we eventually agreed to turn back to the original stream path as quick as possible (see the relatively sharp turn to the left in the photo above). This path is more of a temporary solution until next dry season when we can provide a larger path and armor the side embankment at the turn. But this is a great example of one of the many completely unexpected problems that popped up during the project.


Excavating the downstream path

ceda watches as a local villager excavates the channel

Excavation for the downstream path have begun. This path will guide the water from the watergates back to the existing O'Tabet stream. Manual labor was the best alternative considering costs and safety. At this point, the ground is saturated due to the rainy season, and having any heavy equipment out on site can be unstable. Work is estimated to be complete by next week.


Dengue Fever

it's a serious disease, and nyc will be hit with a severe case of it this saturday, 7/5, at central park's summerstage! dengue fever was first introduced to this project via human translations' video, using "sleepwalking through the mekong" as the soundtrack to this powerful video clip. since then, ewb-nyc have been committed to this water dam project.
"...when things get hard within a project...you tend to search for reasons why you shouldn't finish it..." -Zac Holtzman to AM newyork.


Another Grassing Ceremony

monks from HRND walking across the west embankment
Another grassing ceremony was organized last week, attempting to make the final push to protect the embankment. To date, over 90% of the embankment is covered.



Race To Finish

before: March 2007, view from breach, looking east into reservoir

after: view from the gate controls, looking east into the reservoir

A first glimpse of impounding water in the resevoir. It's now (has been) a race to pull everything together for completion before the rain really hits. There are still a few outstanding items, such as finalizing on the downstream path, grassing of the remaining embankment, and rip-rap lining critical areas to prevent erosion.


Complete With The Cherry Topping

The concrete work on the watergate have been completed last week, and now backfilling to both wingwalls are done! Topped off with a little color, the red beam is part of the control assembly to open and close the two gates. Hats off to all the field crew!


Hydro Revisited

l to r: jason chan, brent katlin, monica louie

During the past few meetings, we've been revisting the hydro study done last summer by Brent, Tim, and John. The original study was based on the watergate to provide a spillway capacity large enough to accomodate for a 100yr design storm event. This assumption, however, resulted in a rather costly labyrinth structure. Thus, we decided to modify upon an existing design, and propose to revisit the hydro analysis to consider some spillway capacity that may be provided at other locations, such as the several existing south canals.

Looking back, the hydro assessment have undergone a long journey, starting from getting information about the river intersection, assessing the condition of the south embankment and the entryway of the south canals, and walking down one of the canals, called the Krapeu Canal.


The KAP Doctors

l to r: larry on cadd, comparison of new and old kap jig, dustyn on band saw

Several weeks ago, i was introduced to Larry and Dustyn. They are both mechanical engineers, and generally work on robotic engineering. They heard about the KAP unit we've used on the project, and also heard that it malfunctioned soon after it's initial flight. So they volunteered to fix it! They've proposed to rebuild the jig, and hook up new servos to the unit. From Cadd to fabrication, these guys had all the right tools to do the job. Seeing them work was amazing and fun, these guys are true geekLabers!


The Concrete is Complete!

Here is a shot of Chanda, Mean Someth, and Chai (l to r) standing on the completed watergate structure. The earthwork around the structure is underway now and the embankment grassing is about 50 to 60% complete. But another big milestone has been met and almost two months ahead of schedule!


Grassing Ceremony

HT and HRND have been coordinating with the local villagers on grassing of the embankment. The planning took several weeks, and kicked off this past Sunday with a great success. Nearly 50% of the main embankment was covered in one day! The effort was distributed amongst the villagers by allotting sections of the embankments to a particular village. This made coordination and managing efforts much more efficient.
During the coordination and planning efforts of this task, things seem to fall in place as far as establishing a Water User Group. Leaders and villagers have come forth and organized into work groups. Continual participation from the villagers and leaders such as this will lead to their better understanding, ownership, and maintenance of the structure once it's handed over to them.


Design Squad

Last November wiL brought a very fancy HD video camera to Cambodia which was given to him by a film crew working for a PBS show called Design Squad. Each episode has a short segment about engineers or designers that are working on interesting projects and the crew wanted to produce a short segment about Matt Sisul and Wil Cao for their show. So we took a bunch of videos of the project and of us messing around and the crew was able to turn it into a really great clip. And it was recently shown on TV! Here is a link to the video.


Quick Update

Here is a new photo from Bouny, Steve Forbes is back in Siem Reap, and it sounds like Chanda will be close to completing concrete by the end of this month!