Water cuts: When is it going to be resolved?

Photo used for illustration purposes only

KUALA LUMPUR – The unscheduled disruption in water supply yesterday was not the first and for certain, it caused public outrage as it had happened several times before during the Movement Control Order (CMO) period.

Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor), in a statement yesterday, again said the contamination at the source of raw water was detected in Sungai Selangor and it affected 1,196,457 account holders of Air Selangor in 1,292 areas in the Klang Valley, namely Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang / Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.

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Air Selangor also said that the contamination was detected at 2 am yesterday, following which operation of the Sungai Selangor Water Treatment Plants at Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Rantau Panjang had to be suspended.

Commenting on this seemingly endless problem, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Forestry and Environment, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Dr Mohd Yusoff Ishak suggested that the capacity and expertise of agencies related to pollution of water sources should be enhanced in line with current technological developments.

“Pollution cases take too long to be brought to court and so is the trial before any decision can be made.

“The delay occurred because investigation to find evidence requires sophisticated scientific methods and apart from the factor on the increasing number of contaminants, the technology and science on environmental forensic in Malaysia is far behind compared to other technologies,” he said when contacted today.

The authorities, he said, should think of initiatives to create raw water reserves of up to 20 per cent, , build offshore raw water reserves and gazette river reserves to avoid the problems from recurring.

“Environmental forensics needs to be strengthened. It needs to be updated with the latest laboratory facilities and equipment in detecting elements of contaminants, given the presence of various new generation chemicals as well as climate factors in the country,” he said, adding that UPM also has environmental forensic experts to identify pollutants in the environment.

Meanwhile, last Sept 7, president of the Association of Water and Energy Research (AWER) Malaysia S. Piarapakaran said the association had sent a letter to the government proposing immediate amendments to the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (EQA) by adding a new section to enable claims for loss by affected parties.

“This will enable the Department of Environment (DOE) to calculate the loss of income and additional costs incurred by parties affected by the pollution. With the proposed amendment, the offender will have to pay fine, cleaning costs and claims for damages by the affected parties,” he said.

However, the Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the latest water disruption is unbelievable and unacceptable as it came just after reports that the water supply has been restored to 686 areas due to the previous water disruption.

“Yesterday’s disruption in water supply was reportedly caused by odour pollution in Sungai Selangor. Incidentally, this was the same river that caused the pollution that disrupted water supply to millions of consumers less than three months ago.

“This is unbelievable. This is unacceptable. This is scandalous. It would seem that all the advice, exhortations and appeals made after the earlier disruption was water off a duck’s back,” he said in a statement.

Lee said the disruptions could not have come at a worse time when the nation is facing the threats of the fast-spreading COVID-19 infections.

“As part of the SOPs during this pandemic, we are exhorted to keep proper hygiene which requires us to wash our hands frequently but how does one do this without running water. And with our movement restricted during Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), we cannot even go over to our friends’ houses for a shower,” he said.

— BERNAMA