The Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) is most concerned with the misleading report provided by the New Straits Times dated 27th March 2006 on the analysis of the tap water in Klang Valley.
The analysis is dubious for the following reasons:1. The NST reported that water samples sent for testing was collected on March 13, 2006. The pollution of tap water was first reported immediately after the floods on February 25th to 26th 2006. There is a significant time lag of almost two weeks between the reported pollution and the samples collected for analysis.
2. It is unclear whether the samples were collected from relevant locations. It is also unclear how many samples were taken and whether the quality of the samples taken is sufficient to make the findings statistically valid.
3. It is unclear who ALS Technichem (M) Sdn. Bhd is. Are they an accredited firm with a proven ability to test water quality? Does this firm have the necessary equipment to test for heavy metals such as arsenic?
4. The standard used (Standard B of the Third Schedule in the Environmental Quality (Sewage and Industrial Effluents) Regulations 1979 are standards for discharge from factories into rivers. It is not the standard for in stream water quality. Therefore this is not the standard to evaluate quality of in stream water.
The NST should not rely on these samples and analysis to conclude that the water consumed is safe.
The NST should consult reports from the following authorities to determine if the drinking water is safe for consumption.
The standard set by the Ministry of Health is the National Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality Standards 1983 which states among other requirement that “drinking water must be clear, colourless and odourless” – all of which Syabas has failed to meet during polluted water crisis.
The Department of Environment is the final authority when it comes to the standard of water quality in stream (water quality in the river) and the Department of Environment has clearly stated that the ammonia content was 10 times higher than the previous level.
The Selangor government should also investigate the concessionaire based on the Selangor Water Enactment if the standards of water quality have been breached.
Therefore, we ask the Ministry of Health, Malaysia and the Department of Environment, Malaysia to publish their findings on the water quality of the Sungai Selangor as well as our drinking water supplied during the water pollution crisis.
CAWP also once again calls upon the government:
(i) to determine if Syabas was:
b) compromised prescribed water quality standards; and
c) endangered public health in the affected areas;
(ii) to determine if Syabas should compensate water users in the affected areas;
(iii) To ensure, safeguard and protect catchment areas and strictly control any development within the catchment areas, especially upstream of the treatment plants. The government must enact laws to protect catchment areas and any form of developments in these areas;
(iv) to closely monitor of all existing sewage oxidation pond and sewage plant in water catchment areas and introduce warning system in case of pollution discharge;
(v) to declassify the Syabas concession agreement for public scrutiny;
(vi) To revoke the Concession Agreement with Syabas and take over the management of water in the state. The responsibility of supplying clean, safe, clear, odourless water to consumers should be the sole responsibility of the government and not left in the hands of the private sector.
Charles Santiago, Co-ordinator,
Coalition Against Water Privatisation.