AS we experience more technological advancements, water operators also have continued to explore various innovative mechanisms to treat raw water into potable water.
Providing clean and safe water supply is an ongoing commitment for water operators.
Several measures have been implemented to ensure that the water supply distributed to consumers complied with the Health Ministry's national standard for drinking water quality.
In a media statement made in 2018, Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) confirmed the safety of our pipe water for direct consumption.
Despite all this, there is still a majority of consumers out there who remain doubtful. Is the water safe and clean to drink? Or is the use of a water filter necessary?
While several consumers are satisfied with the quality of water distributed to their premises, most of them are still wary of consuming water directly from the tap.
Air Selangor – this year's award-winner for its innovative cloud-powered platform that gives consumers access to real time updates on water services disruption, billing and payment, and highlights water services in their community – has pledged to ensure clean and safe water supply to all its consumers.
Air Selangor, the largest water operator in Malaysia, has appointed Universiti Sains Malaysia as its water forensic expert for raw water pollution incidents.
Additionally, Air Selangor is collaborating with Universiti Malaya on a study for sustainable and resilient water supply at the Rawang River sub-basin.
This is part of its initiatives to be the leading water services provider in Asia by 2030.
Safe and clean water supply
As the largest water operator in the country and in the region, Air Selangor is responsible for distributing clean and safe water supply to over eight million consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with a pipeline network of 29,508km.
In Air Selangor, the three main regional laboratories located at Sungai Selangor Phase 2 (SSP2), Sungai Labu and Sungai Semenyih water treatment plants employ 20 chemists and microbiologists under the laboratory service section within the water quality department.
Air Selangor’s chemists and microbiologists are tasked with the day-to-day responsibilities of ensuring that water quality analysis is conducted according to national standards and accredited methods.
This includes conducting sampling activities at all 34 water treatment plants managed by Air Selangor as well as along the distribution lines. They will then perform water analysis on-site for the physical parameters and at the regional laboratories where chemical and microbiological testing takes place.
The regional laboratories are accredited by the Department of Standards Malaysia (DSM) in ISO/ IEC 17025:2017 and are equipped with three types of advanced analytical instrumentations, namely Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Quadrupole Time of Flight (LCMS-QTOF), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS) and Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS).
These instruments can detect low levels of concentration and a wide range of contaminants, trace metals and emerging pollutants which also include pharmaceutical products and solvents.
The ability to monitor the emerging pollutants as well as leverage on the three in-house analytical instruments pushes Air Selangor to be at the forefront of the water services industry.
In ensuring the integrity of the test results and at the same time a more systematic lab data management, Air Selangor utilises the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in all the regional laboratories.
The treated water supply of 5,000 million litres per day distributed by Air Selangor on a daily basis to the consumers is compliant with the National Standard for Drinking Water Quality, published by the Health Ministry based on the water quality guidelines set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Leveraging on technology
Over the years, advanced technologies have been developed and utilised by water operators to ensure that continuous supply of clean and safe water can be achieved.
Through such technologies, Air Selangor has been able to ensure that the water supply distributed to the consumers’ premises is safe to be consumed directly from the tap.
The Off-Plant Autonomous Chlorine Injection System (OACIS), a part of Air Selangor’s Trust Our Tap initiative, is an automated secondary chlorine dosing system used to address the issue of free residual chlorine (FRC) non-compliance in the distribution system.
Chlorine is an important disinfectant to eliminate pathogenic microorganisms in the treated water supply. These secondary dosing systems are installed in areas that have been identified as facing low concentration of free residual chlorine which occurs due to low water consumption rates.
Additionally, the Hybrid Distribution Water Quality Real-Time Analyser (Hydra), an online water quality station installed at the reservoirs’ outlet, is also utilised. Through Hydra, data readings are recorded and monitored every 15 minutes digitally as opposed to the manual sampling methods taken weekly or monthly.
All information and data related to water quality’s non-compliance, warning notifications and instrument status will be displayed on the Hydra web portal.
Water filter backwash
Ensuring clean water supply through Trust Our Tap by 2028
In ensuring its ongoing commitment to provide clean and safe water supply, Air Selangor has formulated a long-term strategy – Trust Our Tap 2028.
This includes a holistic approach in ensuring safe water supply through four main pillars: the protection of raw water resources, water quality control and monitoring, increasing Air Selangor laboratory’s capacity and capability to diagnose, as well as the preservation and treatment of treated water quality.
The continuous demand for clean and safe water supply remains a priority for all water operators.
Despite the challenges faced, Air Selangor remains steadfast and committed to exploring the measures in ensuring that clean and safe water supply can be continuously provided to the consumers.
The myth of water filter
While there are consumers who feel the need to install a water filter system in their homes, Air Selangor assures that the treated water it distributes complies with the standards of the National Standard for Drinking Water Quality.
Some of us may not know that the water filter system installed in our homes would remove the good minerals from the water. These minerals are actually safe for us to consume.
Over time, the accumulated minerals in the water filter will be oxidised, resulting in a brownish sediment and this is what you would see during the backwash process. Do not be alarmed over this, as this is not reflective of the quality of the water supply that Air Selangor distributes to its consumers.
With this benchmark and its continuous commitment, consumers need not to worry about the quality and safety of the water supply.