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.
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.....
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).
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.
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.
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.
Hearing such stories directly from the ones who grew up from the village definitely puts many things in better perspectives.
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.
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.
photo and article from the BBC
not photo'd: kathrine mccullough, monica louie
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.
Thursday, Sept. 18th 7:30pm-11pm
Peter Cooper Suite, 8th Floor
7 East 7th Street, NY, NY
Join us at the Milestone Gala as we say "THANK YOU" to all the supporters who have made this work a reality!
Needless to say, wiL and I thought it was "pretty good". Here are some more photos.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.