New Straits Times
Water expert castigates Selangor govt
HE says the failure to deal with longstanding water-supply issues will have serious repercussions on the economy and people.
THE inability of the Selangor government to resolve its longstanding water supply issues could lead to severe repercussions, not just for the people, but also the state’s economy.
Its failure to address constant water cuts, coupled with its stagnant water infrastructure, can lead to investors losing confidence and abandoning the most developed state in the country.
Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said frequent supply interruptions in the Klang Valley underscored the state government’s failure to address the matter.
This, he said, could be traced to the state’s overwhelmingly low water reserve margin compared with other states.
Selangor had a margin of four per cent. This paled in comparison with Penang (34.1 per cent), Labuan (29.2 per cent), Perak (28.7 per cent), Terengganu (27.2 per cent), Negri Sembilan (22.1 per cent), Pahang (21.4 per cent), Sarawak (20.7 per cent), Melaka (20.1 per cent) and Johor (16.4 per cent).
The national water margin average was at 13.2 per cent.
Piarapakaran said the ideal reserve margin for treated water was 20 per cent. In fact, even 10 per cent was deemed sufficient for operations.
A low reserve margin, he said, would trigger problems, including treatment plants having to operate at a higher capacity, which would then require frequent maintenance.
“The reserve margin helps delay water rationing and hastens the recovery of water cuts.
“One example of how this works will be seen on March 6, when the Sungai Selangor Phase 3 water treatment plant undergoes maintenance.
“When water cuts occur, the recovery of supply will take time. This cannot be avoided if the water reserve margin is low. If there is a sizeable margin, then there would be no issues, even if the plant is shut down for three days,” he told the NSTP.
The New Sunday Times had reported that Klang Valley folk would continue to face water supply interruptions due to infrastructure problems, such as damaged pipes and failure of treatment plants to supply enough water.
Experts said this would continue for as long as the Selangor government failed to resolve the water restructuring exercise.
The delay in the exercise, said experts, had several implications. Among them is Selangor’s water supply could not be effectively monitored to improve the quality of service by the National Water Services Commission Malaysia (SPAN), under the Act 655 framework.
The state was also unable to get the financial facility to develop its water infrastructure from Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd, which had competitive rates.
Experts said the low water reserve margin had affected the real estate sector, as up to January, 761 applications for new development had to be shelved because Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd could not guarantee adequate supply.
Piarapakaran said each year, the margin would decrease because of the surge in population and growth in demand.
“The water supply level in the Klang Valley is on a par with consumer demand.
“As such, there is a crucial need to plan and identify locations for treatment plants, as well as to reduce non-revenue water (NRW). NRW stands at 30 per cent, which means that almost one-third of treated water is going to waste.”
He said if those in power failed to plan properly, it would not only affect the people, but also create problems in the business sector, which affected investment, not to mention health issues.
He said the water supply problem in the Klang Valley was not something to be proud of.
“There are some who claim that even Singapore, a developed country, faces water supply issues, while others cite Los Angeles as an example.
“These are incorrect comparisons as Singapore is an island, while Los Angeles has lower rainfall compared with Malaysia. If you want to compare, make sure it’s apple to apple.”