PETALING JAYA: Selangor has enough water and can weather the current dry spell, said state executive councillor Elizabeth Wong (pic).
Wong, who is in charge of tourism, environment, green technology and consumer affairs, said Selangor’s dams are at a “comfortable” level.
According to the Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) website, the dams in Selangor are all above 55% capacity.
As of Wednesday morning, the Sungai Labu reservoir had the lowest volume, at 55.75% capacity, while Subang lake had the highest at 94.6% capacity.
Wong said Selangor learnt its lesson after the hot and dry weather in 2014 that led to water rationing in many parts of the state.
“We learnt a bitter lesson then, and since 2014, we have been looking at alternatives to ensure that it does not occur again,” said Wong.
She said Selangor has also been performing cloud-seeding operations “all year round” for the past two years.
“Usually, people only think about cloud seeding when it is dry, but when it is dry season there are no good clouds to seed,” said Wong.
She said cloud seeding is carried out in desirable wind conditions and cloud type.
“If those conditions are met, then there is a 60% to 70% chance of rain falling in the right place,” said Wong.
“Every time we see the right cloud, it doesn’t matter what time of the year, we seed that cloud and hopefully the rain will fall at the right place,” she said.
Wong said that Selangor needs to be prepared for “any eventuality”.
“We thought El Nino would come last year, but it didn’t, so we still continued our efforts and now it’s here, and we are in an okay situation.
“But we don’t know how long this El Nino will last. We are not sure what is going to happen, but at least we are prepared,” she said.
Wong also said that Selangor is currently building a Hybrid Off River Augmentation System (Horas) that can supply 350 million litres of water per day. Horas will be completed by 2017.
“Horas is additional water storage which is not in the (Sungai Selangor) river, but near the river,” said Wong.
Water quality specialist Dr Zaki Zainudin said Selangor seems to be in a "good position".
“As long as they are prepared from now to face any uncertainties it is a step in a right direction,” said Dr Zaki.
However, he said that with the lower rainfall during El Nino, it can lead to lower water levels in rivers which may lead to an increase in pollutants.
“Water treatment plants could be affected if pollutant levels are too high.
"Sungai Langat is more susceptible to this problem at the moment, based on its track record of previous closures and pollution sources upstream,” said Dr Zaki.
The closure of the Cheras Batu 11 and Bukit Tampoi treatment plants in the past were due to high ammonia levels in Sungai Langat, rendering the water unsuitable for consumption.
Dr Zaki said that although there are limits that dictate pollutant levels released into rivers, it does not take into account the quantity or load of the waste being discharged.
“There’s only so much pollution that our rivers can dilute,” he said.
However, Dr Zaki said that agencies are aware of the problem and are “taking steps in the right direction”.
Wong agreed that discharge and emission standards "can be improved”.
“We can’t have standards that probably worked 20 years ago,” she said.
Wong also said that there is an ongoing project to have an integrated sewage treatment plant.
“We are planning to pipe all the sewage into one integrated treatment plant. That is one solution, but it takes time,” said Wong.
However, Dr Zaki said treatment technology should be applied at pollution sources rather than treatment plants.
“If we use the technology at pollution sources, the water will be clear and we will have a good aquatic ecosystem. It is a more sustainable solution,” said Dr Zaki.
“If we invest in treatment technology at water treatment plants, does that mean that it is okay for rivers to be polluted?
“If you don’t control the pollution and allow it to continue, how long can that technology treat the water?
“We should instead invest money in tertiary level treatment; the water will be clean and can be discharged into the river to cause minimum impact on the environment,” he said.