Ammonia contamination at two plants cause of dry taps

RESIDENTS in Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat have faced dry taps since before the Chinese New Year, because of ammonia contamination at the raw water intake of two water treatment plants.

Many residents in the 36 affected housing areas found their festive celebration disrupted and were angry at the lack of warning by the authorities.

“We could not cook or clean. Even washing clothes became impossible. It was not a very pleasant Chinese New Year and I spent it trying to get some answers,” said 43-year-old Sally Teh, a market trader.

“On some days, there was no water while other days there was. There was absolutely no information or warning about it, which I would have appreciated so that I could have made some arrangements,” she said.

Calls to the Syabas hotline went unanswered for some time but when she finally managed to speak to someone, she was told about the contamination.

Sethu Nair, 61, a resident from Alam Damai, complained of trouble getting through the toll-free line for the past few days.

“It is always busy. I have also tried e-mailing them but only received an auto reply e-mail so far. I once spoke to a Syabas operator, with the help of a radio station, but they too were unable to advise us on the water situation,” he said, adding that his wife had also sent an e-mail to complain.

He was disappointed with the lack of a contingency plan to handle the situation.

“Though water tankers come around, there is no advice as to its schedule so we are unable to be on stand-by.

There is also lack of information to the public, which is very frustrating,” he said.

A statement by Syabas corporate communications and public affairs department assistant general manager Priscilla Alfred said two water treatment plants were shut down on Jan 28 since the contamination was detected.

One plant was back in operation on Feb 7 but had to be shut down again the next day when the ammonia level went up again.

“The permitted level of ammonia is at 1.5 parts per million (ppm), but right now it is much higher than that.

She also said Puncak Niaga, which runs the water treatment plants as well as the Klang Gates Dam, is working together with the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) to reduce the level of ammonia by releasing water from the dam.

“It is not possible to provide a schedule for the tankers as it is not easy to predict how the situation is on the ground.

Sometimes the tanks run out of water and need to be refilled and at times, they run into heavy traffic,” she said.

However, residents are told to expect the tankers arrival around 6am as well as after 8pm.

Syabas will continue to send water to affected areas and monitor the situation, she added.

“We will inform the public on any development as per updates from LUAS, which is responsible for raw water management,” she said.

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