GEORGE TOWN: The state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee has identified a discharge from an Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) treatment plant as the main cause of the pollutant flowing from Sungai Batu Ferringhi into the sea.
“The discharge from the sewage treatment plant was due to the maintenance and flushing conducted by IWK. The discharge appears to contain suspended solids,” committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said.
“Waste thrown into the river by several food stall operators is another contributing factor,” he said, noting also that the water from the river upstream was clear.
“The black water is only found downstream,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Chow said the IWK treatment plant was unable to cope with the sewerage discharge in the area.
“IWK claimed that the plant served 35,000 users in the area but was built with a capacity for only 30,000 people,” he said.
However, IWK said in a statement on Tuesday that its pipe networks were in good condition and that the sampling results of the water met parameters set by the regulators.
Chow said a meeting chaired by the Department of Environment (DOE) deputy director general (operation) Dr Zulkifli Abdul Rahman on Tuesday had identified IWK as the main contributor to the pollution.
The polluted water is believed to contain the E. coli bacteria. The beach near the estuary of the polluted river, however, remains open.
Chow said a Chemist Department report to be released tomorrow would determine whether the polluted water contained the E.coli bacteria.
IWK officials would be summoned to brief authorities tomorrow on ways to redress the situation, he said.
Several proposals had been put forth, he said, citing that excess sewage should be transported in tankers and treated at other treatment sites.
Also, IWK should self-regulate and conduct daily sampling to ensure that the discharge was in compliance with environmental standards.
A trader near the area claimed that the river water would turn black “at least four times a week between 9am and 11am”.
A district engineer said the riverbed would be dredged to improve the flow of the Sungai Batu Ferringhi as a short-term solution.
IWK senior communications manager Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman declined to comment when contacted.
IWK workers collected soil as well as water samples from the river mouth while environmental officials collected water samples from the sea.