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TAPS RUN DRY: A million people in 209,678 households will be affected
KUALA LUMPUR: THE water crisis has begun in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) announced yesterday.
Syabas chief executive officer Datuk Ruslan Hassan said a million people in 209,678 households would be affected, with the crisis expected to worsen during the fasting month, which begins on Saturday.
“Water consumption is normally higher during Ramadan, and with the current condition where demand has exceeded supply, we fear the worst.
“I hope all parties involved in this crisis will look for a solution fast,” Ruslan told reporters after visiting residents of Taman Sungai Besi Indah, Seri Kembangan, near here, who have been experiencing regular water cuts since April this year.
The announcement that taps would run dry came on the heels of an ultimatum from the Selangor government to the Federal Government, demanding that the latter put in writing the proposed “post-Langat 2” water tariff and also declare water facilities worth RM10.5 billion as “state assets”.
Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said any discussions about the plant, which the Federal Government had said was badly needed as it was critical in ensuring sustainable water supply till 2030, would only commence after the two demands were fulfilled.
Despite facts to the contrary, the menteri besar maintained that the plant was not cost-effective compared with the reduction of non-revenue water (NRW) or transferring water from Kenyir Lake, which were the state goverment’s proposals.
Ruslan said Syabas has proposed water rationing in the Klang Valley, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, Hulu Langat and Klang.
It will present its action plan to independent water regulatory body, the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) next week.
“If it’s approved by SPAN, Syabas will ration water in the affected districts. We’ll inform the residents before doing so.”
Ruslan said Syabas was powerless to conduct water rationing as the matter was under the jurisdiction of SPAN which can “call the shots” if it sees the need for it.
Even if the Selangor government agreed to the building of Langat 2 today, and work were to start the next day, Ruslan said it might be too late to avert a crisis as it would take at least four years to build the plant and get it running.
Ruslan said Syabas had sounded the alarm of the impending water crisis since 2005.
“Our responsibilities are also limited. We don’t develop new water sources as some may think. We just distribute water purchased from treatment plants.”
The increased water demand in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya stands at 4,353mld (million litres per day) as of July 8, while the maximum amount produced by 34 water treatment plants are only 4,371mld leaving a near-zero reserve capacity.
The “safe” level of reserve water is at 10 per cent, whereas international standards cite 20 per cent as an “ideal” level.
The Selangor government, however, continues to be in denial mode, with its exco member Dr Xavier Jayakumar rubbishing Syabas’ announcement of a water crisis.