Friday, 20 July 2012

Group moots plant upgrades to allay Selangor water shortage

July 20, 2012
Santiago asked Syabas to provide empirical data to allow for an objective determination of Selangor’s current water situation. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 ― A water rights group today suggested upgrades to Selangor’s existing water plants as a temporary measure to prevent an impending shortage, even as the state’s water woes threaten to bubble over into a full-fledged crisis. 
Last Saturday, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) said that it was asking the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) to allow an immediate water rationing exercise for areas within the Klang Valley due to the private utility’s inability to maintain uninterrupted water supply to the region.

The federal government is also lobbying for the construction of a new multibillion ringgit water treatment plant, Langat 2, to address the public’s need.

But the Coalition against Water Privatisation insisted today that short-term measures could be taken immediately, including the upgrading of existing treatment plants.

“Now the government has a choice, they can upgrade the SSP1, SSP2, SSP3 (plants at Sungai Selangor dam),” said the coalition’s co-ordinator Charles Santiago, adding “it could be a cheaper option” that can be completed “within a month.”

He suggested that the government use a Swedish innovation called “Dissolved Air Floatation”, claiming it could help increase the production of treated water by 25 per cent.

Santiago, who is also DAP’s MP for Klang, admitted that the technology could be “costly” but gave his assurance that the extra cost would not be passed on to consumers.

The coalition also demanded an end to Syabas’s “monopoly” of information on water supply and production, saying that this would enable its experts to determine if the impending water crisis was real or “manufactured.”

It urged Syabas to provide meter readings that show the amount of raw water entering treatment plants, as well as the amount of treated water being produced.

Santiago also asked for certified log books and calibrated meters, electricity bills and chemical usage records for the period from January to this month.

“Show it to us. Prove it to us. We are afraid this (water crisis) is manufactured to get Langat 2,” said Santiago, adding that: “If they (Syabas) are not hiding, if they want to clear their name, they should make this public.

He said the “independent verification” of these data would be able to show the actual situation, instead of observations on whether dams or water treatment plants are full.

“When someone points out the dam is full, it means nothing; it could have rained in the morning.”

“When someone points out the water treatment plant is half full, it also means nothing; someone could have shut off one side.”

The state government has disputed claims of a water shortage by Syabas, saying the dams in the state are overflowing in the current rainy season. But Syabas said it was referring to the water treatment plants which are at full capacity.

On Monday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that the state government would be using clause 32 of the concession agreement with Syabas to take over operations of the water supplier, accusing them of being incompetent for failing to lower non-revenue water (NRW) to below 20 per cent and owing RM2.8 billion in arrears.

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