Villagers affected by water treatment plant shutdown


State Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari (right) visited a landfill near Kampung Air Ganda on April 12.

State Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari (right) visited a landfill near Kampung Air Ganda on April 12.

GERIK: Residents of Kampung Air Ganda Temenggor, Hulu Perak, are struggling with water shortage after the Ayer Ganda water treatment plant was ordered shut by the National Water Services Commission (SPAN).

“The plant has been shut down since Wednesday. Although the state water board (LAP) has been supplying us with clean water, we are finding it hard to carry out our daily chores due to water shortage.

“Some villagers even got into small fights to get more water,” said village chief Yus Amiro, 45, yesterday. “Things are harder for families with small children and old folks.”

A nearby villager who only wished to be known as Kak Yong, 50, said she was not aware of the water treatment plant being shut down until she saw LAP lorries and sta­tic tanks coming in and out of the village.

“I have a food stall near the area. Although I do not live there, most of my customers are from the village.

“Ever since they shut down the water treatment plant, customers from Kampung Air Ganda Temenggor have not been coming to my stall. Perhaps it’s due to the water issue.

“My stall does not use the water from the treatment plant, so I am not worried. But I hope things will get better soon for the villa­gers,” she said.

On April 9, SPAN announced the shutdown as a precautionary measure after the disco­very of traces of arsenic in the water.

State Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari said the sample taken from Sungai Rui showed low levels of arsenic contamination.

“We are not ruling out the possibility that the river might have been polluted by waste disposal at a nearby landfill,” he told a press conference after visiting Sungai Rui and Kampung Air Ganda Temenggor yesterday.

“We are still waiting for the result from the state Health Department (DoH).

“After my visit to the landfill, I believe the operation did not follow the standard procedure of waste disposal,” Abdul Aziz said.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu earlier said DoH had taken hair samples from 300 villagers.

It was found that 20 villagers had skin conditions and their samples were sent to the Institute for Medical Research to check for any link to the polluted water.

Abdul Aziz said the state government would strictly enforce the law to prevent this matter from happening again.

“On behalf of the state, we want to extend our apologies to all the villagers who are affected. Even though I am not part of the task force, I believe they are doing their very best to tackle the matter,” he added.

In a written statement, LAP said following the shutdown of the Ayer Ganda water treatment plant, the board would build 11.5km of pipes and booster pumps to channel treated water from the Lawin water treatment plant to Kampung Air Ganda.

“LAP has always ensured the quality of treated water supplied to consumers. Despite the water samples taken from the Ayer Ganda water treatment plant showing traces of arsenic below the standard set by the World Health Organisation, we respected and agreed with SPAN’s decision to close the plant,” it said.