Mixing Concrete

Since our test cylinders arrived yesterday, we have spent some time on site working to cast samples of Chanda's concrete recipe. One of the challenges we faced was taking the recipe - written in kilograms of cement, gravel, sand, and water per cubic meter of concrete, and pretty much useless without a very expensive scale that can measure up to a metric ton - and converting it to units that would be more user-friendly for the workers who will be mixing the endless batches of concrete for our project. In this case, we used the measured density of all four ingredients to convert kilograms (mass) to buckets (volume) and marked out one of the buckets for measuring each material. After a short explanation of our "measuring bucket", the laborers were able to quickly assemble a batch of concrete at exactly the correct proportions.
Currently, workers are busy finishing excavations and bending rebar, and in the next few days they will start installing forms and bars, with the goal of pouring the first of the foundations by the end of the week. Stay tuned...



Hey Everybody, it's Jess here. I'm keeping up to date with Matt's progress photos (I used one of your pics in my post, Matt!), I have to say it's so great to see the site developing the way it is. After all the hard work, frustrations, and tough decisions that were made, especially in January, seeing the project take shape is very satisfying. Matt, I have to be honest, I envy you right now! I definitely wish I was there to see things happening in person.

I showed a few of my coworkers at Skanska the construction progress photos the other day. All were very impressed at the work that is being done, and those that were familiar with the project history (specifically, Shelly) were especially complimentary that our entire team was able to overcome the roadblocks we were faced with and make it into the construction stage. So, I will pass those compliments along to everybody that has been involved in this project.

It was great to be able to share the story of the project through the pictures, and this just opened up great discussions about the EWB organization in general. People were interested in what we do, and how to get involved. I think that there are huge resources of people in our NY area that could be of great assistance in this project, and future projects - both young engineers, and older more experienced engineers. Many just haven't heard of EWB, or don't know how to get involved - now that I have had my own personal experience being involved, and having visited the site, I want to use this to educate people and get them excited and involved.

I'll keep everybody posted on how these efforts go... Until then, keep the progress photos coming! Good luck over there, keep safe & productive!



Bussmann is back in 'bodia

Matt Bussmann just arrived back in Cambodia almost a full year after the last site assessment. We are pretty lucky that he did. Chanda is gearing up for pouring concrete and Matt has quite a bit of concrete inspection experience.

a concrete chute

surveying for the top of base slab elevation


Road Trip to PP

Before signing the contract with Chanda for the concrete water gate we had to meet quite a few times. However, Chanda lives in Phnom Penh and our project is just outside of Siem Reap. Chanda came to visit us in SR a few times so we decided it would be a good idea for us to go to PP and meet with him. We also decided it would be a good idea to load up the truck and drive our selves. The two cities are connected by Highway 6 which is one of the better roads in Cambodia but is basically a two lane deathtrap used by cars, pedestrians, motos, students on bicycles, dogs, cows, water buffalo, chickens, etc. If you take a bus between the cities it takes 6 hours, by taxi it's only 4. We figured we would be able to make great time, however, after 5 and a 1/2 hours of white knuckles on the steering wheel we finally arrived in PP exhausted and went straight to our meeting with Chanda.

On the way back we were better prepared. We didn't have a meeting waiting for us so we took our time, brought a bunch of snacks and had a really fun road trip.


Weekly Site Meetings

Every Thursday we meet on site to review open issues. A typical meeting discussion includes things like construction productivity, budget and spending, community issues, and future work planning. Here are some regular attendees:

Chai (Project Assistant) and Ceda (Community Development Assistant)

Narith (Construction Manager)

Bouny (Project Coordinator)

one of Bac Krons dogs (potentially lunch)


Kong Chanda

Our original plan for the implementation of this project was to start the embankment work then begin the concrete water gate and have two separate crews working simultaneously. However, when we began gearing up for the concrete work it became increasingly apparent that our crew did not have the so-mat-a-pe-up (capacity) to handle it. An example of this being the rebar cutter shown above. When purchased, the crew incorrectly believed it could cut up to a size D24 rebar. So we tapped into the ex-pat network and found three concrete contractors in Siem Reap to provide bids. But they were all high and not having any personal experience with any of them we were a bit hesitant to start anything with someone new. So in December we called Kong Chanda.

Chanda worked for HT about a year and a half ago and worked with our first site assessment team. wiL, Ryan and Alexi had nothing but great things to say about him and we were very concerned when he left the project for work in Phonon Penh. When we originally contacted him in December it was just for his opinion on our situation; high bids from unknown contractors. But after that first phone conversation Chanda called back 5 minutes later to tell us he would be in Siem Reap the next day to meet with us and see the site. As a side note: when Chanda saw the rebar cutter he correctly told us it could not cut anything bigger than a D16 rebar.

After that site visit in December we decided that hiring Chanda and his company to build the concrete water gate would be our best chance of finishing. Almost all business contacts we had made so far simply looked at us foreigners as a dollar sign despite the explanation of our project objective. Chanda was the first person to have a genuine interest in the project and helping the people of Balang. So we began trying to create this new project team. Chanda, very patiently, provided many different bids, schedules and met with us several times in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh over the next two months. Finally, after lots of very hard work by Chanda, HT and EWB-NY, we were able to agree on a contract price, sign the contract and Chanda has begun working. Chanda’s contract scope includes the complete concrete water gate and soil backfill around the structure. Essentially, everything left to make this reservoir functional.

The Earth Work Is Complete!

The earth work is complete! We finished the all of the major earth moving necessary for the embankment repair and the equipment has been removed from the site. Above is the main embankment ...

the North embankment ...

and the South embankment.
We still have a lot of work, most critical right now is grassing the entire embankment before the rainy season begins. We will also need to install a rip rap band at the future water level, install monitoring wells and potentially a toe drain on the down stream side. But this is a major milestone completed a month before originally scheduled!


superbowl decision

Superbowl Sunday, and as most Americans started their day today with anxious excitement to watch the game, the EWB Cambodia team started with a conference call to discuss final decisions on selecting which design to move forward with; the labyrinth design, or the straight weir design previously submitted to TAC. We have spent the last few weeks optimizing the labyrinth design to bring the cost down to fit the budget, but as time became a critical factor, the group was under pressure to finalize on one design to focus on.
Both designs have their pros and cons, and the group discussed at great length all of their concerns for each design. We concluded by agreeing to each write an individual final statement to submit to Steve Forbes, as he had previously agreed to be moderator should a decision not be reached within the group.