Troubling the Water

A Dying Lake and a Vanishing World in Cambodia

Abby Seiff

Examines the consequences of the destruction of Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake.
Publication date:
July 2022
Publisher :
Potomac Books, Inc.
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781640124769

Dimensions : 225 X 152 mm
Available in 3-4 weeks


• The timing couldn't be riper for this book. This summer, the Mekong river reached a grim milestone: It dipped to its lowest levels since modern recording began. Each time the Mekong reaches a new low, the pulse that keeps Tonle Sap lake alive slows. This year, the Tonle Sap river reversed course several months late. It is only a matter of time before it stops entirely - with a devastating impact as outlined above.
• With American, Australian, and European tourism booming in Cambodia, and an appetite increasingly being shown for Cambodia book, this would potentially be of interest to the millions of annual visitors - many of whom experience the Tonle Sap lake personally while visiting Angkor Wat.
• The lake's importance cannot be overstated. The Tonle Sap flood pulse system provides crucial protein as well as irrigation, and soil nutrients for much of the country's agriculture - in turn, feeding tens of millions of its neighbors. But the bodies of water also loom large in Cambodian mythology, religion, and culture: dictating the timing of annual festivals, location of Angkorian cities, sacred monarchical rituals, simple daily proverbs and more.

In this intimate account of one of the world's most productive inland fisheries, Troubling the Water explores how the rapid destruction of a single lake in Cambodia is upending the lives of millions. The abundance of Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake helped grow the country for millenia and gave rise to the Kingdom of Angkor. Fed by the rich, mud-colored waters of the powerful Mekong River, the lake owes its vast bounty to an ecological miracle that has captivated poets, artisans, and explorers throughout history. But today, the lake is dying. Hydropower dams hold back billions of gallons of water and disrupt critical fish migration paths. On the lake, illegal fishing abetted by corruption is now unstoppable. A fast-changing climate, meanwhile, has seen a string of devastating droughts.

Troubling the Water follows ordinary Cambodians coping with the rapid erasure of a long-held way of life. Drawing on years of reporting in Cambodia, Abby Seiff traces the changes on the Tonle Sap - weaving together vivid stories of those most affected with sharp insight into the one of the most threatened lakes in the world. For the millions who depend on it, the stakes couldn't be higher.