PETALING JAYA: For some Malaysians, access to clean drinking water is still a pipe dream.
Murky water, like the colour of teh tarik, coming out of the tap is a common sight, said sundry shop owner Norizan Mohamad, who lives in Kampung Gual Tinggi, Rantau Panjang.
The Kelantan village is about five kilometers away from the Thai border.
“The water coming out of the tap is slow and it has an odour,” she said, likening it to the smell of wet earth.
Norizan, 57, said those who could afford to, had installed water pumps and tanks in their homes.
“It costs more than RM1,000 to install the pump and tank for a house,” she said.
Before the pump was installed in her house in 2019, Norizan had to time her household chores accordingly.
“Sometimes I had to wait until midnight to wash my clothes as the water is clearer then. It was very troublesome,” she said.
“At my shop, we had to use mineral water to wash vegetables,” she added.
According to one resident, the water flowing out of taps at a small hospital, where her father had been admitted, was no different.
For consumption, she said they opted for filtered water.
Such grievances are often shared on social media where residents in Kelantan would post pictures of murky water flowing from the taps.
Decades on, traditional wells still function as a source of water for many homes in Kelantan.
When contacted, Water Heroes Society SPAN Water Forum president Mohamed Hilmi Che Ramli said the water supply situation in Kelantan had been a longstanding issue.
“Throughout the recent Hari Raya season, the Water Forum received nearly 1,000 complaints in Kelantan alone through the Water Heroes hotline,” he said.
“To overcome the water problem in Kelantan, all parties must be fair and not simply point fingers.
“All parties including the state government and the Federal Government must collaborate to look at the problem without any prejudice,” he said.
He said the delays in some water treatment plant projects had also exacerbated the issue.
“The state exco must also be more aware and proactive in explaining to consumers about the development of water supply projects and in providing explanations on the water problems faced by consumers,” he said.
In 2020, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the ministry would seek an allocation of over RM7bil to undertake projects to resolve water and flood woes in the east coast state.
Commenting on this, Mohamed Hilmi said some projects must be expedited, acknowledging, however, that some have already started.
Last month, Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) issued a statement, refuting allegations made against its tube wells and other works.
It also maintained that it was now working towards upgrading treated water to consumers, besides developing new facilities for treated water.