Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rising to the water challenge

Meeting demand: Work on the Pahang-Selangor Interstate Raw Water Transfer Project has started.
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we have adequate and affordable safe and clean drinking water for many years to come.

THIS Tuesday, March 22, is the 18th International World Water Day. This year’s theme, “Water for cities – responding to the urban challenge”, could not have been more timely in the context of how Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will come to grips with the challenge of urban water management due to increasing demand for safe and clean drinking water as a result of rapid growth in urban migration and population.

The Federal Government foresees that the residents of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will experience water supply shortage by 2014 unless the increase in demand can be effectively met.

Many can still remember the water crisis that hit Kuala Lumpur in 1998 when water rationing lasted for several months until shortly before the Commonwealth Games were held.

To avoid a repeat of such a crisis, the states of Pahang and Selangor signed a contract in November 2007 for Pahang to supply raw water to Selangor at the rate of 10 sen per 1,000 litres of water, and such rate would be reviewed every five years. In return, Pahang would receive an annual income of approximately RM85mil.

This RM9bil project, known as Pahang-Selangor Interstate Raw Water Transfer Project, comprises the construction of a 45km tunnel to transport some 1.89 billion litres of raw water daily to Selangor; Kelau Dam; Semantan Pumping Station; and Langat 2 Treatment Plant and its distribution system. With Japanese funding, the tunnel construction commenced on June 1, 2009 and is expected to be completed by May 2014.

However, to avert a possible water crisis, the Langat 2 Treatment Plant and its distribution system (Langat 2 Project) have to be completed in time or simultaneously with the completion of the water tunnel. When fully completed, the entire system is capable of producing more than 2,000 million litres of treated water a day (MLD), sufficient to help meet the projected water demand of about 4,900 MLD by 2014 in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from the current demand of about 4,200 MLD.

However, the Selangor government has decided to tie together the state water restructuring issue involving four concessionaires – Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Bhd (Splash) and Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd – and the commencement of Langat 2 Project. As a result, the land acquisition process has been put on hold and the relevant local authorities have also been directed to withhold planning permission for the development of the Langat 2 Project.