PETALING JAYA: As Selangor braces for more dry days ahead, former state executive councillor Ronnie Liu trained his guns on Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, accusing the Mentri Besar of being negligent and questioning the haste in which he agreed to the Langat 2 project.
Liu, who was state chairman in-charge of local government from 2008-2013, said the Mentri Besar had enough time and resources to prevent water rationing exercises like the previous one.
Speaking to The Star, Liu said experts had told the state executive council that Selangor had enough water resources – ponds, rivers and underground pools – to be self-sufficient.
He also claimed that Selangor had an underground water reserve almost the size of Singapore under oil palm plantations in the state and that membrane technology could be used to produce clean water.
Another option was to turn wetlands taken over through a debt recovery exercise into natural retention ponds.
“Tapping underground water reserves will not be difficult because we only have to pay the plantation owner to lease the land.
“Other countries are already using membrane technology at their water treatment plants because this is the most efficient way of getting treated water,” Liu said.
He said the 1,000ha of wetlands adjacent to Sungai Selangor were natural retention ponds that could be utilised by pumping the water into the river during dry season.
He said the state should also conduct cloud-seeding operations early instead of waiting until the last minute.
Liu suggested that the state engage a group of experts to handle the issue.
“Khalid has been harping about low water level at the dams to justify water rationing. This is misleading because treatment plants draw water from rivers, not dams.
“Dams are like fixed deposits while rivers are like current accounts; dams release water only when river water levels run low but there will always be water flowing from rivers to the sea,” he said.
The state, he added, had about 30 water treatment plants that could be upgraded to meet any increase in demand.
He said treatment plants had to supply clean water at 5% to 6% above the daily demand and had always taken into consideration the need for higher demand.
So technically, he said, the issue of insufficient water supply should not occur.
“We suspect the real reasons behind the inadequate water supply are burst pipes, pump errors, wrongly set water pressures or even political intentions.
“I have to question Khalid’s haste in agreeing to the Langat 2 project,” Liu said, adding that Selangor did not have to depend on Pahang for water.
He said he was perplexed as to why the Mentri Besar had not implemented any of the methods shown to the state executive council that would have prevented water rationing, despite the state having a RM3bil cash reserve to fund these.
Responding to Liu, Selangor Infrastructure and Public Amenities Committee chairman Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi conceded that the last round of water rationing happened because the state had not thought of utilising other water resources.
But he denied the move was politically motivated.
“We do not deny the need for Langat 2 for the development of Selangor,” he said.
He said the state had identified nine former mining pools that could meet Selangor’s demand for four months and that weekly analyses of water samples from the pools had shown them to be safe for use.
Dr Ahmad Yunus said underground water caches had also been identified in Kuala Langat while other alternative sources were being tested, but the state was prioritising the mining pool option for now.
He assured consumers that water rationing would not happen in the near future.