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Water supply disruption an unforgivable lapse of duty

  • The authorities must display a higher level of professionalism in managing our water supply in order to provide high quality service that befits a developed state.

Sin Chew Daily

The Selangor River has been contaminated twice in three days, forcing the emergency shutdown of several major treatment plants resulting in many districts in Klang Valley having to suffer unforewarned water cuts that have affected millions of residents.

Water supply disruption in Klang Valley, be it scheduled or unscheduled, has become a habitual event to many local residents.

That said, intermittent water cuts remain an annoyance to the people and will adversely affect day-to-day and commercial activities. They should not have happened in the first place.

The two most recent unscheduled water cuts have been related to river contamination.

The first case was caused by oil-based waste from the IWK treatment plant. Just as the contamination was cleared and water supply gradually restored to affected households, the second incident occurred, resulting in delayed restoration of normal water supply.

Shutdown of water treatment plants due to river pollution is nothing new in this country. Each time this happens, the authorities almost always find themselves caught unprepared and helpless.

Oil-based waste from IWK plant is similar in nature to effluent from a factory, and they are not unrelated to antiquated equipment and substandard maintenance, in addition to lapses in the management mechanism.

It is essential for factories and facilities near to water-supplying rivers to adopt all the necessary preventive measures to ensure proper handling of industrial effluent and oil-based waste.

Strict supervision from the relevant authorities must be in place at all times and actions must be taken immediately in the event of any undesirable irregularity, instead of scrambling to reverse the damage after water supply is found contaminated.

The second incident was suspected to have been an act of deliberate sabotage by enraged anglers having been chased away by sand-mining concessionaire. The fuel tank cover on a sand dredging pontoon was found to have been pulled open, causing fuel to flow into the river.

If this claim is real, then stringent legal actions must be taken against the saboteurs for causing distress to millions of people just because of their presonal resentment.

Meanwhile, the Selangor state government, sand-mining concessionaire and Air Selangor must also not be excused for their negligence.

As the sand dredging pontoon is no more in operation, the residual fuel should have been cleaned up and the pontoon removed.

Bear in mind that anything can happen if such equipment is left abandoned and unattended to. River contamination can happen not only as a result of human sabotage but also climate or other unexpected environmental factors.

Already many commercial activities in the state have been affected by such a small scale contamination. The damage will be unthinkable if the contamination is on a much larger scale.

Now that police reports have been lodged, it is imperative for the authorities to probe whether the incident has been an act of retaliation or a planned attack. The perpetrators must be punished as soon as possible.

Intentional or unintentional destruction or planned attack of water supply facilities are serious crimes that are against the law, and the individuals involved must be dealt with seriously under the nation's laws.

State water supply authorities must never allow water supply disruption to keep happening on the pretext of difficult enforcement owng to excessive length of our rivers or abundance of industrial activities. This should constitute an unforgivable lapse of duty.

Clean and safe water supply is a daily necessity and important lifeline to the state's economic and production activities. The authorities must display a higher level of professionalism in addition to the deployment of more sophisticated technologies to manage our water supply in order to provide high quality service that befits a developed state.

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