End of water rationing for 6 million users in Malaysia

SHAH ALAM - For over six million consumers who have been putting up with water rationing over the past few months, the state government's decision to end the exercise is a much welcomed move.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said water overflow in some rivers of the state and heavy rainfall recorded in the past few weeks had prompted the state government to reach the decision, which came into effect today.

He said the decision was made following a meeting between the state government, state water concessionaires, National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) on Monday.

"We decided to end the water rationing exercise even though the Sungai Selangor dam's water level has not reached its desired capacity of 50 per cent.

"As of yesterday, the reading was 40 per cent. However, continuous downpour for the past few weeks has allowed the state government to reconsider our decision."

He said water was being pumped from several overflowed rivers into the dams.

"We can use the overflowed water and pump them into the dams to increase the water levels."

The state government had informed Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) of its decision and instructed it to discontinue water rationing for Phase 1 to Phase 4, starting today.

He said the state government's plan to pump water from an old mining pool near Bistari Jaya would continue with 10 pumps being used at present and another 10 more to be utilised next month.

He dismissed reports on health risks and contamination of pool water, saying the state government had conducted a number of researches on water quality since 2009.

"Before we made the decision to use water from the old mining pools, we have conducted researches every year to determine the water quality.

"We are confident to say that the water does not have any risk of contamination as claimed by certain quarters. The samples we brought back and studied had passed vigorous tests by the state health department.

"We also use a three- tiered filtering process to ensure that the water that reaches our customer is safe for consumption.

"If we keep extracting and pumping water from the pools, our water supply can last for more than five to six months than originally expected."

Khalid said the state government would look at enriching the usage of reservoirs and extracting groundwater under its Hybrid Off River Augmentation System technology.

"Our efforts to extract water from the earth, reservoirs and rivers are part of our contingency plans to face the dry season, expected from May to September.

"If all of our plans to restore water supply go uninterrupted, the supply will last us until 2050."

On the state government's plan to use rainmaking technology for cloud seeding from a neighbouring country, Khalid said he had written a letter to Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein asking for permission.

On the construction of Langat 2 water treatment plant which was supposed to start yesterday, he said he hoped to see Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili on the project's details.

On the state water restructuring exercise, Khalid said two of the four state water concessionaires had requested for the government to not invoke Section 114 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 .

"I will meet Ongkili and the water concessionaires to fine-tune this deal as it has already taking a lot of our time.

"Personally, I would like to see Section 114 to be invoked, but we will see how it goes when we meet again to discuss the matter soon."