Residents vent anger as water supply disruption in Malaysia's Klang Valley enters third day

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Residents of Malaysia’s Klang Valley affected by the latest water-supply disruption want the authorities to be more prepared to prevent such problems from recurring.

Many took to social media to vent their frustration and urge for harsher enforcement against polluters.

Mr Rudzman Zabaruddin, 42, a food blogger from Serdang, said it was frustrating that Selangor residents had to face water cuts again.

“I’ve been living here for 14 years and this can be considered a yearly issue. And we were just recovering from the Sungai Gong issue,” he said.

He was referring to the alleged discharge of chemical affluents into Sungai Gong, Selangor, just a month ago which affected 1.2 million consumer accounts in the Klang Valley – Malaysia’s most densely populated areas consisting of the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, and southern Selangor districts which share water resources.

On Sunday, water supply was cut to 309,687 consumer accounts in the Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang districts as two water treatment plants were shut due to pollution found in rivers where water was sourced from.

Officials said on Tuesday that one of the two treatment plants, at Sungai Semenyih has resumed operations after the odour from the pollution near the plant dropped to 0 TON (zero Threshold Odour Number) when tested three times in a row. But it will take 12 hours before water supply can be distributed to users, said water company Air Selangor.

The other plant at Bukit Tampoi has yet to resume operations, as the samples tested at its intake point recorded 2 TON as at 6am on Tuesday.

The cause of the pollution have been found in waste and organic compounds dumped in a bush near the Nilai Industrial Area in Negeri Sembilan, which borders Selangor.

The authorities have so far failed to locate the person or persons who dumped the waste there.

Mr Arveent Srirangan Kathirtchelvan, 26, from Selangor’s Taman Sri Gombak, said some residents went out to the nearest river to get water without considering cleanliness and safety.

He urged the Selangor government to come up with a back-up plan in future, such as an emergency water stockpile.

The state should also be looking into rainwater harvesting, he added.

Subang Jaya resident Seela Gunasakaran, 36, said she was shocked on being told of the water disruption on Sunday night.

“I was away with my family when I received a call from my sister at 8pm, telling me that there would be water disruption. By the time I reached home, the water supply was completely out,” said the entrepreneur, who has three young children.

“A water tanker was deployed but can you imagine the ordeal of queueing and then having to carry water home?”

Ms Nur Izzra Izzati, 30, was worried after she heard that water supply was unavailable at her parents’ house in Telok Panglima Garang.

She urged the authorities to impose stiffer punishment on offenders who caused water disruption and pollution.

Businesswoman Siti Nurathikah Abd Aziz, 24, from Sepang, claimed the water from the tanker sent to her place was not very clean as well.

“The water tanker lorry came yesterday morning, but sadly, the water was yellow in colour and you could smell chlorine in it.

“This is not the first time it has happened in Selangor. How come other states don’t have so many water pollution issues?”

Five people – four brothers who are directors of a vehicle maintenance plant, as well as a workshop manager – were charged with polluting Sungai Gong in Rawang district in early September, causing the disruption of water supply.

The offences were allegedly committed at the premises of Yip Chee Seng & Sons between Sept 2 and 3.

If convicted under a section of the Penal Code, the men could face a jail sentence of between five and 30 years, or a fine, or both.

If convicted under the Environmental Act, they face a fine not exceeding RM100,000 (S$32,900), or a jail sentence not exceeding five years, or both.

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