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Water Pollution 2020: Why We Are Not Punishing Everyone For Water Disruptions?

water disruption

Seriously I have lost count but once again, someone had polluted the rivers that caused the water supply in Klang Valley to be disrupted again. And once again, the act of polluting the rivers seemed intentional and with little regards to the welfare of thousands of consumers. If it is not considered as malicious sabotage, then what is it then? A sheer recklessness? Image source: NST

Read these first:-

Early Warning Message

On the 4th of October, we were coming back home when we got the word that some terrorists criminals society-menace had gone and polluted the 2 rivers that contribute raw water to water treatment plants in Selangor.

Thanks to this “early warning”, we managed to rush back home in time, stopping to buy several crates of 6 litres of bottled drinking water from Tesco (before words get out and there is a mad rush for it) and stock up every container possible in the house with standby water.

In addition to this, the condominium where my sister was staying still had running water, so we had that as a second option to get our clothes washing, cooking (if we are not opting for online food delivery) and bathing is done.

Then starts the agony of waiting for the water pollution to be resolved and the supply is back.

In the meantime, it is good that the culprits have been identified which leave only one questions reminds unanswered – when we can string these polluters with piano wire around their neck in the central square?

A major cleaning up at a duck and goose farm beside Sungai Pajam in Negri Sembilan is believed to be the source of the odour pollution in Sungai Semenyih and Sungai Langat.

Selangor State Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said this followed pollution detected from organic substances such animal carcass and not from petroleum.

Apart from that, he said other sources are suspected to be from Nilai 3 Industrial Park and he hoped the Ngeri Sembilan government would take the initiative to investigate the matter.

The odour pollution caused 273 areas involving 309,605 accounts in four districts namely Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang to experience unscheduled water supply disruption.

Hee said two pumps have been mobilised to supply 27 million litres of water per day in Sungai Langat while 300 MLD in Sungai Semenyih. — Bernama


water disruption selangor

Surprisingly Perak had more unscheduled water disruptions than Selangor but that does not mean Selangor is better. Almost 12,000 incidents of unscheduled water disruptions are simply not acceptable. Image source: TheStar

Unfortunately, this incident of pollution involves 2 states – one just hope that all parties involved disregard the differences in politics and expedite the actions to get the culprits and get the water supply back in order:-

In a statement on Monday (Oct 5), the ministry said the main location is at the borders of the industrial area at Jalan Emas at the Nilai Industrial Estate in Negri Sembilan.

“The waste was found at the location and there was also waste of organic compounds. The odour of the waste is almost similar at the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant which had to be shut down yesterday (Oct 4),” said the ministry.

“The Seremban Municipal Council and the Sewage Waste Corporation will be cleaning up the bulk of waste today (Oct 5),” said the ministry.

“The illegal waste dumped is suspected to be managed by an unlicensed company. Investigations by the DOE, SPAN and police show that this is likely to be a secondary source,” said the ministry.

The ministry also said the odour is still very strong and added that water supply has yet to be resumed.


Finding The Culprits

sungai gong water pollution factory

Just last month in September, we had another major water disruption due to pollution affecting millions of consumers. The long arm of the law managed to catch up with the offenders and have charged them in court for polluting the Sungai Gong in Rawang. Image source: Malaysiakini

They are charged under Section 430 of the Penal Code with causing mischief by injury to irrigation works and Section 25 (1) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 with discharging scheduled waste without a licence into the environment, leading to pollution. If found guilty, they may face a maximum 30 years imprisonment or a fine RM100,000 or both.

Barely a month and we have not 1 incident of water pollution but 2 which has caused another water disruptions. There is no doubt that just like the incident last month, given the resources & priority, the authorities will find the offenders and they will be soon charged in the courts (in fact, they have arrested the offenders some 500 kilometres from the dumpsite):-

The Negri Sembilan police, together with Bukit Aman, is tracking down perpetrators responsible for Sungai Batang Benar pollution, here, which also caused two water treatment plants (LRAs) in Selangor to cease operation on Sunday (Oct 4).

The state’s deputy police chief SAC Che Zakaria Othman said that this was following the National Water Services Commission (SPAN)’s report yesterday. The investigation is being carried out under Section 430 of Penal Code, which imposes a sentence of imprisonment up to 30 years or a fine or both, if convicted.

He said that from early information gathered the suspect is not from Negri Sembilan, and the police are confident that they would be able to detain the suspect soon.

“Once detained, we will bring the suspect to Negri Sembilan for further action,” he told reporters here today, after monitoring the bush area at Jalan Emas in Nilai Industrial Park, which was identified as the main location of the pollution source.


Why We Have Water Disruptions?

We have a very good contamination detection process in place, the right standard operating policies on how to deal with water disruption and phased recovery processes. To add to this, we also have a heavy punishment for offenders in place but why then we still have these environmental criminals polluting our rivers and causing massive water disruptions on a rather regular basis?

There are 2 serious and obvious reasons why we are still having water disruptions due to man-made pollutions.

1. Impact of punishments under the law

Obviously, the high possibility of 30 years imprisonment is not clicking with the hardcore offenders. They obviously don’t care and obviously thinks that they can get away with it.

And if it is a mere fine, then a small amount under the law means nothing to large or wealthy businesses.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has suggested it is considering increasing penalty for unethical companies found polluting the country’s water supply up to RM6 million.

In an interview with state broadcaster RTM, its director of corporate communications and consumer affairs Mohd Fazli Ismail said the current RM500,000 penalty may be too low for some companies that make hundreds of millions in revenues.

“The increment of punishment that probably worth RM5 million to RM6 million will cause the industry to be more careful to avoid bearing the cost of the penalty,” he said in the Bicara Pengguna show tonight.


The point is we should not be soft on these criminals that put their personal greedy profits before the safety of others. We need to aggressively go after these polluters and keep punishing them with the maximum punishment under the law.

Heavy fines should also be imposed and it should be based on an expected loss incurred by the State Government (in mobilising emergency water supply and manpower), businesses and normal households. Trust me; these fines based on actual losses will run into millions of ringgit.

2. Relocation of polluting industries

The main source of pollution that has impacted the rivers providing the raw water to water treatment plants has been due to the release of pollutions from the various workshops and factories and illegal dumping of sewage & rubbish.

Whilst the illegal dumping requires constant monitoring and enforcement by the authorities, the dumping of oil and other pollutions from the industries (some of them are illegal ones) is something that can be controlled.

So are the authorities making the right enforcement and proactively relocating these factories that are known or prone to pollute the rivers that provide raw water to the water treatment plants?

He also noted that the extensive basin of the pollution-prone Sungai Semenyih was also littered with numerous industrial and agricultural industries. Experts have long deemed the river problematic because of this.

Such pollution had also consistently led to the shutdown of the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment plant over the years. Zaki said the wiser way to prevent the pollution was to have the states enforce a ban on new high- risk establishments.

He said “high-risk” should be determined by experts by weighing the category of effluents, their quantities and type of operations. Zaki also said the ban should cover the expansion of facilities that were already up and running in the upstream areas.


We cannot afford to have another round of water disruptions and put all our efforts to clean up & searching for the culprits and yet do not proactively tackle the main issues that cause the water disruptions in the first place.

Not only it is embarrassing considering Selangor suppose to be one of the most developed states in the country but frequent water disruptions are causing serious trouble & inconvenience to a lot of consumers. After all, it takes a few days for the water supply from the water treatment plants to actually reach our homes, prolonging the suffering of many.

We need to increase the quantum of punishment, increased enforcements and clean up all the risk of pollutions that will cause water disruptions.

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