75,000 in Johor hit by water supply cut

KLUANG • A water treatment plant in the Malaysian state of Johor has been temporarily closed since last Saturday due to ammonia pollution at Sungai Benut, cutting water supply to about 75,000 consumers.

Simpang Renggam Member of Parliament and Education Minister Maszlee Malik said on Monday that the supply cut was due to the closure of the water treatment plant in Simpang Renggam in Kluang.

Consumers of SAJ Ranhill, which provides water supply services in Johor, in Simpang Renggam, Ayer Hitam, Kulai and part of Pontian district, have been hit by the suspension, reported Bernama news agency.

"We believe there are irresponsible people taking the opportunity to release ammonia into this river. At the same time we are urging SAJ Ranhill to provide water through its tankers to consumers in the affected areas," Dr Maszlee was quoted saying.

He said the pollution had been made worse as a bund surrounding the CEP Renggam landfill nearby had broken, causing leachate to be absorbed into the ground. Leachate from landfills is known to contain high levels of ammonia and heavy metals that can contaminate surface water and groundwater.

"At the same time, we hope that action will be taken against the affected parties and the landfill (near) Sungai Ulu Benut (which is one of the causes of the problem) is closed immediately," he added.

The Johor Department of Environment is investigating the pollution and samples from the river have been sent for analysis, Bernama reported.

Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had on Monday voiced concern about pollution in Sungai Ulu Benut and Sungai Machap in Simpang Renggam, ordering the state authorities to investigate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2019, with the headline '75,000 in Johor hit by water supply cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe