Proposed Bill to ensure treated water is always safe for consumers

The Gunung Pulai Waterworks in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Water treatment plant operators and distributors will be required to come up with their own "water safety plan" to ensure treated water is consistently safe for consumers under the proposed Safe Drinking Water Bill to be tabled in Parliament this year.

They will be required to produce the plan for inspection by Health Mi­­nistry officials whenever required, and would be duty-bound to carry out and maintain the measures, to ensure the treated water is of top quality.

The ministry, which has made public the proposed provisions in the Bill to get feedback said any operator or distributor who failed to adhere to the directive shall be liable to a fine of up to RM100,000 (S$38,000) or imprisonment of up to a year, or both.

The Star had reported that the ministry would table the Bill to better safeguard the rights of consumers and protect them from potential health hazards.

The Bill, which spells out the roles of water concessionaires in supplying quality drinking water to millions of consumers nationwide - is to give the authorities more bite to act against irresponsible water operators and distributors.

Sources had told the paper the penalty proposed for those who cause a water source or drinking water system to be contaminated could receive a fine of up to RM500,000 and jail term not exceeding five years.

Also, operators who fail to meet prescribed standards for drinking water could face a fine of up to RM300,000 and three years' custodial sentence.

The proposed legislation will also allow the Health Minister, with the agreement of the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, to shut down a water treatment plant if there are reasons to believe that the water posed a health hazard to consumers.