Monday, 10 December 2012

Lawmaker Says Supply Of Raw Water In Selangor Will Deplete If New Sources Untapped

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Selangor may be on the verge of a shortage of raw water should new sources of water remain untapped amidst the ongoing challenge to supply adequate treated water to numerous homes, offices, restaurants and factories in the state, says a federal lawmaker.

MCA Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the Selangor government must take stock to ensure that the current supply of raw water would be in tandem with population and industrial production growth, noting that certain portions of raw water currently sourced could not be treated and consumed by the state’s population.

“Why must we confuse the people by portraying that we have sufficient raw water? We know very well that not all the raw water that we have is suitable for treatment because we do understand that the raw water in certain areas may contain heavy metal, and this might even cost you a fortune in seeking (medical) treatment,” he said in an interview.  

Ong criticised the Selangor government for not tabling “convincing figures” or statistics in the state assembly that would put an end to the water impasse, saying that Selangor was grappling with two water issues on different fronts, namely, the shortage of raw water and raising the capacity of water treatment plants.  

“Pakatan Rakyat state legislators have been saying that we have enough raw water just because it is now the rainy season and all the dams are full. By saying that the reservoirs are full of water doesn’t mean that you have enough raw water in reality. We want the state government to come up with some unbiased statistics in order not to confuse the people,” said the seasoned politician.

He said the role of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) was confined to the distribution of treated water to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and that it was the state government’s jurisdiction over the issue of raw water to be provided to water treatment plants.  

Ong, who is a former transport minister, also questioned the state government’s ability to guarantee uninterrupted flow of water if it were to secure a 100 per cent stake and full management rights of Syabas against the backdrop of not constructing new water treatment plants and not tapping new sources of raw water.  

“Just by reshuffling or maybe taking control of the management rights and the water assets of the concessionaire, do you think the state government can resolve a water crisis in the long run? I doubt so,” he said.

Ong pointed out that the Langat 2 mitigation project was among several programmes that were planned before the 2008 general election to cope with the high demand for treated water due to the mushrooming of factories and business parks in the state, saying that the state authorities should look at it objectively and prevent a repeat of the 1997-98 water crisis.

“I do understand that the state government is playing hard ball with the federal government, especially when they make it a prerequisite to be guaranteed the transfer of the management rights of all the water assets, including the Langat 2 treatment plant (upon completion), before they agree to grant the green light to the project (Langat 2),” he said.

Last week, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui told the Dewan Negara that the Langat 2 water treatment project had fallen behind schedule by 29 months and that the Selangor government should withdraw its directives to local councils to hold off giving the approvals that would allow 22 tender packages related to the plant to be disbursed.

The minister said the project, according to the original schedule, should have been 68.95 per cent ready as of October this year but the status of the project was only 28.40 per cent complete.  

On the Selangor government’s announcement to reopen the Bukit Jelutong water treatment plant as a pioneer project for membrane technology to treat water, Ong said the people had yet to see it translated into “real action” and it was vital for the state to announce new sources of raw water other than that from Pahang.

“On the Pahang raw water, I still remember, the current state administration said we do not need that, meaning they claim that they have sufficient raw water. But, actually, this is not true. So how are they going to handle such a situation? Ultimately, you have to face the people,” he said, adding that the existing capacity of the 34 water treatment plants in the state was at the optimum level.

In September, it was reported that the Pahang government would consider cancelling the raw water supply agreement with Selangor if the latter continued to politicise the issue.

The water transfer project between the two states will see 1,890 million litres of raw water pumped daily from Sungai Semantan in Pahang to the Hulu Langat water treatment facility in Selangor.
Questioned on the possibility of a sharp tariff hike with the current Langat 2 project proceeding as planned, Ong replied: “It depends on the negotiations between the state government and the federal government. I see no reason why the state administration wants to make this an issue.

“By making this an issue, alleging that they have to pay high tariffs because of Langat 2, is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.” — Bernama

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