PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Yet another suspected contamination in Sungai Selangor has forced water supplier Pengurusan Air Selangor to issue a stop-work order on its Phase 1,2,3 and Rantau Panjang water treatment plants causing unscheduled water-supply cuts to more than 1.1 million consumer accounts.
Some 5 million people were affected in Malaysia's most populous districts in the Klang Valley.
The contamination was detected around 2am on Monday (Oct 19).
The federal territories of KL and Putrajaya, and districts in Selangor state - often called the Klang Valley - share the same water resources collected from rivers and dam in Selangor, and treated at plants in the state.
The cut in the water supply affects 1,292 areas in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang/Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.
The new disruption comes just as households are reeling from an earlier disruption in September, also caused by river contamination at Sungai Gong, which feeds Sungai Selangor.
Over the weekend, households in Klang Valley also endured another water cut caused by a burst pipe on Saturday.
The water supply is expected to be restored in another 24 hours, said Air Selangor.
"We are expecting the four water treatment plants to resume operation in another one or two hours and thereby restoring water supply to about five million consumers in 24 hours, ” said Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, as quoted by Bernama news agency. He said this at a news conference after visiting the phase 2 water treatment plant in Sungai Selangor.
Air Selangor said in a statement: "Repair works on the burst pipe at the Sg Selangor Phase 1 water treatment plant is about 80% completed but works cannot continue because of odour pollution at the same plant."
Air Selangor has mobilised water trucks to affected areas with priority given to critical premises such as hospitals and dialysis centres.
Households that need an immediate water supply for emergency purposes, such as in the case of performing funeral rites, can contact 15300.
"We are working to minimise the impact of this water disruption as we understand households will be in need of water following the rise of Covid-19 cases and the conditional movement control order," Air Selangor said.
Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim said initial investigations found solvent as the source of the odour pollution.
"The smell of solvent was similar to the earlier incident in early September which is still under investigation,” he said, adding that the ministry had identified several industrial areas as the source of the pollution.
Tuan Ibrahim said the ministry did not rule out the dumping of solvent by illegal factories operating around Selangor.
Meanwhile, the frequent supply-cuts have angered the public, as the authorities have continued to give the same excuses every time.
"This is unbelievable. This is unacceptable. This is scandalous. It would seem that all the advice, exhortations and appeals made after the earlier disruption was water off a duck’s back," said Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of the Alliance for Safe Community.
Many NGOs and concerned citizens had then called for an audit of the factories that line Sungai Selangor to ensure that they did not pollute the river, he added.
"We are sick and tired of these afterthoughts, excuses and promises of action, which, well, hold no water and lead to nothing – until the next water cut," Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, group advisor of the Star Media Group wrote in a column on Monday. "We are fed up."