SPAN floats idea of single authority to look after rivers

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 14 Aug 2019

PETALING JAYA: The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has floated the idea of a National River Protection Authority to act as the guardian of all rivers in the country.

SPAN chairman Charles Santiago said there were too many agencies involved in rivers, adding that none of them had any real authority.

He was speaking to the media on Wednesday (Aug 14) at a seminar on river pollution in the country.

In the wake of several incidents of river pollution in the country, Santiago said there was a need to look at how the entire system could be integrated under one authority, within the Prime Minister's Department, to give it power and money to solve the issues at hand.

Santiago said they would have to put the water problems faced by Cape Town, South Africa and Chennai, India in the back of their minds as both cities have millions of inhabitants and are without water.

He added the government had to be proactive to solve these issues.

In the past few months, the Sungai Kim Kim river pollution issue in Johor affected more than 6, 000 people in the area, while diesel spillage in Sungai Selangor had caused water disruptions to almost five million people residing in the Klang Valley.

Santiago said that 98% of the raw water that was treated came from rivers.

"If the pollution issue is not solved, the cost of treating river water will increase and this would result in water tariffs increasing as well, " he said earlier in a speech.

Santiago also said that SPAN had suggested making changes to the Water Services Industry Act 2006 to increase fines of those responsible for polluting the rivers.

"There are those who think that the issue is not new. True, but if we take it easy now, it is only inviting bigger problems in the future. It is like a time bomb that can explode at any time, " he said.

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