LOOKING at the frequency of water cuts that affect the people of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, it is safe to assume that every household would already have a contingency plan by now.
And the plan always means that more money must be spent.
The problem is taking a toll on the people, especially with the rising cost of living.
On July 18, thousands of households were informed of a scheduled water cut effective July 23 to facilitate the first phase of upgrading works at the Sungai Selangor water treatment plant.
The next day, taps went dry unexpectedly.
People eventually found out that between 2pm and 2.30pm, an odour was detected in the raw water source in Sungai Selangor.
This forced the shutdown of three water treatment plants, affecting 1,133 areas and involving 1,166,842 customer accounts in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.
The pollution was brought under control and all three plants resumed operation by 7pm the same day. Water supply was restored in phases.
However, the root cause of the pollution could not be traced and people were cautioned that the pollution might recur. Following that, the scheduled water cut on July 23 was postponed.
Just as the people heaved a sigh of relief over the resumption of water supply, the taps went dry again.
The incident on July 21 was due to diesel contamination in the raw water source in Sungai Selangor.
The water authority shut down four water treatment plants this time, catching an even larger number of people by surprise.
This unexpected incident threw people off guard and if prolonged, could be chaotic and a health hazard.
The most affected were families with growing children where a routine is a must to ensure all household chores are completed and the well-being of everyone is taken care of.
Without water, the main daily tasks of cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry have to be put on hold. A sudden water cut would mean what remains in the storage tank would have to be reserved for toilet and bath use.
For any other task, water has to be bought.
Eating out alone for a family of five could go up to RM100 a day.
Other things that needed to be purchased would include disposable plates and cups, as well as drinking water.
Multiply the cost by two or three days (depending on the period of disruption) and imagine the cost incurred in total for some one million households that were affected by last week’s water cut.
Adding to the frustration of extra expenditure, dirty laundry continued to pile up and personal hygiene took a back seat.
Those with young children, senior citizens and the sick would have it worse. I wonder how the schools and hospitals coped.
Water was restored in most areas by Monday. So, for many families, Tuesday was hair-washing, house cleaning and laundry day.
The people are upset and tired.
The weekend was ruined.
Sudden water cuts cost the people a lot of money in addition to being terribly unhygienic.
Having found elements of sabotage in the Sungai Selangor water contamination, Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador said the police were contemplating to charge the culprits under the most serious of laws, including the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act which allows for detention without trial, usually reserved for terror suspects.
He is right. These culprits caused much chaos in the lives of some four to five million people in the Klang Valley as well as health hazard which cannot be quantified, and they should rightfully be charged under the most serious laws in the country and not just for pollution.
The heaviest penalty should be meted out to deter others in the future.