INDIVIDUAL septic tank (IST) owners have been urged to desludge their ISTs within their premises regularly to prevent environmental pollution.
The IST is a septic tank located below the ground, either in front, at the back or at the side of the house.
Land, Water and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar, who made the call, said ISTs must be emptied at least once every two years to prevent sludge from percolating and hardening.
“Should the sludge harden, the wastewater that enters the septic tank will only seep out of it without undergoing any treatment before flowing into the nearby drainage, which will eventually pollute rivers,” he said at the launch of Indah Water Konsor-tium’s (IWK) new app and “Sedut dan Menang” contest in Pinggiran Sungai Langat, Selangor.
Dr Xavier said the contest was to encourage the public to engage IWK’s desludging service and protect the environment.
According to Section 61 (1) (C) of the Water Services Industry Act 2006, owners of premises with ISTs are responsible for emptying and maintaining the septic tank. Any owners found guilty of breaching subsection (1) can be fined up to RM50,000.
To-date, Dr Xavier said there were approximately 1.3 million ISTs and more than 3,000 communal septic tanks in use.
He explained that IWK, owned by Minister of Finance Incorpora-ted, was responsible for providing sewerage services, operating and maintaining more than 6,700 sewage treatment plants and 19,320km of sewerage pipeline network serving 25 million Malaysians.
“To reduce negative effects to the environment, it is important for owners of septic tanks to get the service to desludge their tanks according to schedule,” he said.
IWK chief executive officer Faizal Othman said the company’s desludging services complied with the high standards stipulated by the authorities and fees were based on tank size.
He said only about 10% of the 1.3 million ISTs were desludged by IWK currently.
“We are aiming to reach 30% within three years,” he said, adding that they hoped the campaign would bring more awareness and persuade more IST owners to seek their services.
The contest is ongoing until Sept 30 and offers prizes such as holidays abroad.
Faizal said the introduction of IWK app was another effort to provide fast and easy service to customers in this digital age.
“App users can request for IWK services such as desludging tanks, check sewerage bills, make payment online, file complaints and give feedback,” he said.
The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store.
Faizal also said IWK would continue its corporate social responsibility initiative in river preservation, and had identified Sungai Langat as one of its 21 adopted rivers under IWK Friends of Rivers programme, where river cleaning is jointly done with the community.
Speaking to reporters later, Dr Xavier said financial constraint, lack of information and attitude of certain IST owners were the reasons for the lack of response to desludging service offered by IWK.
“Some owners only get the service when a problem surfaces, while some wait for incentives.”
He said he had directed IWK to propose incentives.
“This campaign now is to get people to engage desludging service willingly because the tanks are located in their premises. If there is a complaint from their neighbour, we can advise the owner involved and that owner has to pay the cost for desludging,” he said.
He added that IWK charged RM144 to RM230 for desludging service.
Dr Xavier also said the Government spent RM1.5bil on building the Langat Sewage Treatment Plant expected to be completed in 2021, and that there were plans to build more in Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Pasir Gudang.