THE Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry is studying if water treatment plants can be equipped to treat ammonia contamination.
Its deputy minister, Noriah Kasnon, said so far, there were no plants in the country with the technology.
She also said a proposal on the matter would be submitted to the Cabinet. She was speaking after visiting the Cheras 11th Mile water treatment plant in Selangor on Monday.
The plant has been closed since July 14 due to high ammonia levels detected in Sungai Langat, which serves as the raw water intake point. It supplies water to 26,000 consumers in Balakong and Sungai Besi Indah.
During her visit, Noriah was informed that hourly readings were taken, and as at 4pm, the ammonia content was still high at 6.3 parts per million (ppm).
“The permissible level is below 1.5 ppm. I was told the ammonia content did dip briefly due to rain but it wasn’t enough to dilute the ammonia content sufficiently for the water to be treated,” she said.
Asked about the source of contamination, Noriah said there were several contributing factors, such as the dumping of sewage matter, garbage and industrial effluent into the river.
“We hope the public will not be unduly alarmed as Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) has taken measures to ensure continuous water supply,” she added.
At present, water is being supplied to the affected areas through the Sungai Langat water treatment plant.
“The water reserve at the Sungai Langat plant has decreased because the plant is operating beyond its maximum capacity.
“Nevertheless, we are still able to cope,” said Syabas corporate communications and public affairs general manager Abdul Halem Mat Som.
“Tankers are despatched to areas like Taman Tenaga and Kampung Cheras Batu when supply is low. Syabas workers also distributed five litres of water to every household in the Cheras Batu flats when supply was disrupted,” he said.
Kg Cheras Baru, Kuala Lumpur, resident Wong Chiew Fah, when contacted yesterday, said water supply had returned to normal.
Earlier, Wong and thousands of other residents in the neighbourhood said they had been facing serious water supply disruption for about a month.
A press conference on this issue was called on Sunday by Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, who said the residents were furious as there seemed to be no solution in sight.
The open-air market in Jalan 1 in the area was also badly affected as many traders could not open for business.
However, a check on Monday revealed that water supply had resumed and the traders were back in operation.
Wong said supply disruption had started for her on July 13 and continued through July 31.
“We experienced disruptions daily, and in the most serious case, it started one afternoon and we did not have water right up till 4pm the next day.
“It was definitely more than 10 hours of living without water,” said Wong, 61.
Wong, who lives in Jalan 9, said although her situation was bad, there were many others down the road who were worse off.
“At times when there was water, the pressure was low and it was not enough for us to cook and wash.
“Although they did send water tanks, these tanks only came around midnight, when every one was already asleep,” Wong said.
She said although the pressure was back to normal and the water was clean now, she hoped this incident would not recur as it would cause hardship to many.
Meanwhile, the Salak Tinggi water treatment plant has been closed since July 6 due to a similar incident of ammonia contamination.
Areas like Kampung Ginching, Kampung Labu Lanjut, Kampung Salak Tinggi, Ginching Hulu, Ginching Hilir, Kampung Lembah Paya and Pekan Salak that previously received supply from the plant now gets it from the Sungai Semenyih plant.