Ammonia pollution: Water supply restored in most Kulai homes

High levels of ammonia were detected in Johor's Sayong River (right), which left about 17,000 households in Kulai without water. According to news reports, water supply was restored to about 80 per cent of households in Kulai yesterday.
High levels of ammonia were detected in Johor's Sayong River (right), which left about 17,000 households in Kulai without water. According to news reports, water supply was restored to about 80 per cent of households in Kulai yesterday.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The wedding of Mr Saiful Ihsan's sister yesterday nearly did not happen. All preparations for the happy occasion ground to a halt when the taps in Kulai ran dry at about 10am.

Mr Saiful, a 34-year-old teacher, and family members spent the next few hours looking for alternative water supplies, which they eventually found.

But it was an arduous task trying to get 1,400 litres of water to the wedding venue. Thus began another mad rush, this time to find a big enough tub, hire a lorry to transport the tub and then wait four hours for water trickling from a small pipe to fill it up.

Mr Saiful made it back only before the wedding dinner began at 7pm.

"We were desperate and needed water to wash all the dirty plates from the dinner," he said. "It was slow because there was only one pipe to fill the tub," he said.

Mr Saiful and his family were not alone in their predicament. Water supplies to Kulai and the surrounding areas of Kampung Sri Jaya, near where Mr Saiful and his family live, were cut off.

This was after high levels of ammonia were detected in Johor's Sayong River, which left about 17,000 households in Kulai without water.

 

The high ammonia levels forced the PUB, Singapore's national water agency, to stop treatment operations at its waterworks in Kota Tinggi on Thursday.

Ammonia-contaminated water had flowed into a creek that supplies the Johor River after a reservoir at a biocomposite centre next to a palm oil refinery burst on Wednesday.

PUB had said the water supply in Singapore was not affected as it had stepped up local production at the desalination plants and waterworks to meet demand.

When The Straits Times visited the Johor River Waterworks plant yesterday afternoon, it was closed and not in operation.

Water supply was restored to about 80 per cent of households in Kulai yesterday, news reports said.

For residents like Mr Sabaran Mithy, they had had no water since Thursday night, and had to use water from their rooftop tanks.

But a 62-year-old store owner, who gave her name as Madam Kamidah, told ST that it had been a good day for business as Indonesian workers in the area had rushed to buy bottled water from her.

Johor International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee chairman Jimmy Puah told ST he had received 31 complaints from affected residents, and clean-up operations were under way. He said only the PUB-owned sites have not resumed operations as at 3pm yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'Ammonia pollution: Water supply restored in most Kulai homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe