Water, water everywhere

Megha Bahree

FORBES | December 28, 2009

Asit Biswas loves to tell the story of the Phnom Penh Water Authority. It was 1993 and a new manager, Ek Sonn Chan, had been appointed to the then bankrupt utility. Of the water that it piped from its reservoirs, 72% disappeared without ever being paid for. Chan decided to chase down errant customers, among them all of Cambodia’s government agencies and the Army. When asked to pay up, the officer in charge pulled out a gun. Chan retreated but went back the next day with a handful of journalists in tow. The general once again pulled out his gun. Chan cut off the water supply. The next day the Army paid its dues, and all the other agencies followed. Today the utility is flush with cash, and there is clean drinking water—the kind that can be had straight from the tap—available through the city, around the clock.

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