INDAH Water Konsortium (IWK), the national sewerage company has been wrongfully accused of polluting the State of Selangor's water resources.
In a few news reports on November 5, 2020, Indah Water was reported as among the companies found to be polluting water resources in the state.
However, the shutdown of the Air Selangor water treatment plant in September 2019 was a result of odour pollution caused by illegal dumping of prohibited waste into the sewerage system.
"Taken out of context, it would seem as though IWK is polluting when in actual fact, IWK is doing its level best to protect and preserve the environment, particularly our water source," Narendran Maniam, Indah Water's Chief Executive Officer added.
The incident Narendran referred to occurred in September 2019, when there was an interruption to the flow of wastewater in Indah Water's sewer pipeline because it was damaged by a third-party contractor who was conducting underground utility installation works.
In response to that, Indah Water had to immediately activate a temporary emergency bypass pipe to avoid overflowing.
Narendran reiterated that stringent adherence to the standards can easily be undone by illegally disposing waste into the public sewers.
Water disruptions have been increasingly frequent as of late, citing water pollution as the main reason, with the most recent incident reported on December 7, 2020.
This was because Sungai Selangor Phase 1, 2 and 3 Water Treatment Plants and the Rantau Panjang Water Treatment Plant were unable to cope with the high level of pollution in the raw water because of industrial activities lined up along the rivers.
Indah Water operates and maintains 8,147 sewage treatment plants (STPs) and network pumping stations nationwide. In all these plants, Indah Water's operation needs to comply with standards set by the regulators and authorities.
Indah Water's level of compliance to the Environmental Quality (Sewage) Regulation stood at 97.1 per cent as of September 2020, which is higher than the compliance level of 96 per cent in 2019.
More importantly, there are other sources of pollution in Selangor which may come from individual septic tanks (IST), communal septic tanks (CST) and pour flush that are not properly maintained.
On the other hand, when Indah Water was mandated to maintain and operate the national sewerage system, Selangor recorded a significant improvement with level of compliance at 97 per cent.
Selangor also recorded a far better sewerage connectivity of 90 per cent, compared to 83 per cent about 10 years ago.
According to the Institution of Engineers of Malaysia (IEM), the burden lies on the general public and the authorities to maintain the health of our water source.
The general public could report any suspicious discharge activities near our drains and rivers and the authorities could launch an awareness campaign to talk about the need to deter pollution.
Besides that, IEM also stated that another area that needs to be improved is the enforcement and early action by the relevant authorities. Based on previous reports, the pollutant had reached the water treatment plant intake by the time the pollution was detected. This deprives the treatment plants of any early warning or time buffer to react timely, much less providing enough notice to customers.
IEM also views with great concern that it takes up to 4 days for the service recovery after each disruption of the water supply. They are prepared to work with the authorities to improve the water supply system since there are many engineering measures available to shorten the service recovery period.
In order to immediately manage the ongoing battle in combating water pollution, IEM would like to support the initiatives by all parties including the Department of Environment (DOE), Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS), Air Selangor and others.
For more information, please visit Indah Water's website.