KUALA LUMPUR: The spate of water disruption episodes in the Klang Valley last year and early this year caused by contamination at the water treatment plant and old burst pipes have left a big impact on consumers and the industry.
The recent incident in December 2016 affected about 3.89 million people, including the business industry, especially the manufacturing sector.
The restructuring of the water industry is expected to be delayed due to the postponement of negotiations until October 5 this year, which means that the water disruption issue may be prolonged. Hence, there is a need for the relevant parties to be serious in seeking a solution to the crisis.
Association of Water and Energy Research (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said the water crisis in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya would be prolonged should the margin of the water reserve be inadequate to accommodate increasing demand.
“During the drought in 2014 for instance, the electrical sub-station was forced to shut down and this caused the water reserve margin to be insufficient to meet the demands of the people.
“If the capacity of the plant is increased to about 10 to 20 per cent, we will be using more raw water. This however is not the solution,” he said.
Piarapakaran revealed that the non-revenue water (NRW) in the country was over 30 per cent and Selangor was among the states which recorded the highest NRW rate.
According to Piarapakaran, NRW, which is water that has been produced but was “lost” before reaching consumers, was due to leaking underground pipes.
“If the rate of NRW can be minimised, the water reserve margin will definitely increase to the benefit of consumers including the manufacturing sector in Selangor,” he said.
Frequent water disruptions in Selangor particularly in the past few years was due to the lack of buffer sources — Klang Valley has a negative water reserve
margin of 1.5 per cent, which is far
below the safe margin of 20 per cent.
The existing water treatment plant in Selangor has been operating beyond its capacity, hence any incident such as contamination or drought may immediately cause water disruption in the Klang Valley.
Piarapakaran said that apart from consumers, the state and Federal governments must also get involved in campaigns to save water.
Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said that recurring water disruption has become a burden to consumers and caused major losses to various industries.
“It is the right of the people to receive continuous water supply that
is clean and safe. Water disruption has been a longstanding issue, and because of that, those affected have the right to take action so that
the government provides a solution to the problem within a given time frame.
“I believe that water disruption will continue to occur as long as
the restructuring of the country’s water service industry scheme is not finalised.
“The scheme will benefit the people particularly in solving water disruption issues,” he said.
The final date for the implementation of the restructuring of the water industry in Selangor has been postponed from April to October this year. The delay in the implementation would have a chain effect on treated water supply.
The Federal government will only provide funds for repair and upgrading efforts once the restructuring is finalised.
The risk of sustaining more damage, however, is higher when the state government does not have the funds to carry out maintenance and repair works. This will in turn become an extra burden to the state government.