Water crisis looming

THE Water Association of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (SWAn) is very worried over what is happening to our water supply. Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) reported that the current prolonged hot and dry weather in the Klang Valley has led to a phenomenal increase in water demand exceeding the maximum production capacity of the water treatment plants.

It was also reported that this has resulted in consumers in several parts of Selangor experiencing water shortage or unscheduled disruption and low pressure.

From the data published by Syabas, the average water demand in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya has risen to 4,329mld (million litres per day), as compared with the maximum operating and distributable capacity of the water treatment plants of 4,371mld, including output from the newly commissioned Sungai Labu plant.

This clearly shows that there is near-zero reserve capacity to cater for any further rise

in water demand particularly during peak demand periods. This situation will obviously cause a serious drawdown of our treated water reservoirs to very low levels during peak demand periods.

In this regard, the Selangor Government seems to be oblivious to the current situation, claiming that all the dams in the state are full and consumers will not face water shortage. It has even suggested taking over water supply from Syabas.

The state government appears to be confused when it referred to the seven dams in Selangor whose function is to store surface water or raw water during rainy seasons. Syabas is referring to the reservoirs that store treated water for supply to consumers.

Secondly, the state government has no expertise to take over water supply. The state should listen to the relevant authorities and operators regarding the true water situation and act responsibly.

If this confusion and misunderstanding of the real water issues continue, it could lead to a major water crisis worse than that of 1998 which lasted six months and affected seven districts and 1.8 million consumers in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

SWAn understands that in view of the impending shortage of treated water, Syabas has proposed several projects and measures to be taken to avert a water crisis.

However, apart from some very critical projects being implemented by the Federal Government, the rest of the projects and measures proposed have not been carried out due to a freeze on capital expenditure by the state government pending the protracted proposed restructuring exercise of the water industry in Selangor.

As a non-governmental organisation representing a large number of consumers including industries, SWAn will be meeting the state government and the Federal Government; the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry; and the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) to discuss the best solution and preparation should a water crisis happen in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

On behalf of consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, SWAn urges the Federal Government, the ministry and SPAN to give priority to this very important issue.

Otherwise, we will face a water crisis unprecedented in the country.

Water Association of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (SWAn)