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Averting Selangor’s water crisis

“Let’s set aside our differences because the project is for the convenience of the people. Besides, it is fully funded by the federal government.”

“Based on the projection, Selangor is expected to face water shortage by 299 [million litres per day] from 2012.”



Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin, saying Selangor is due for a water crisis by 2014 if the current state government under the Pakatan Rakyat continues to delay land approval for the Langat 2 treatment plant to be built. This plant is meant to treat raw water from Pahang.

Under the project which was approved by the federal government, the plant, costing RM8.65 billion, is to ensure supply for increasing water demand in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya until 2025. In a later statement, Chin said water usage was projected to grow by 2% to 3.5% annually, according to research by the Economic Planning Unit. He said demand for clean treated water would begin exceeding supply by the end of 2010. (Source: Delay in Langat plant: KL, Selangor, Putrajaya face water woes, Bernama as quoted in The Star, 13 July 2010)

“The Selangor government recommends that the implementation of the Pahang-Selangor water transfer project should only begin in 2016. There is no need to treat this project as a priority or in a rush[ed] manner without regard for a holistic understanding of the water resources in Selangor, including taking into consideration the water restructuring process.”

“We also believe that other alternatives should be prioritised instead of a large, lucrative construction contract like Pahang-Selangor water transfer.”

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, refuting the federal government’s claim that the state would have a water crisis by 2014. He said the state had consulted experts who looked at the population growth rate, water usage, and current supply capacity, and believed that there was enough supply until 2019.

Khalid also said the state would take other measures like cutting losses from non-revenue water, and exploring other water sources like rainwater, lakes, and underground water.

The raw water transfer from Pahang could begin later, in 2016, so as to avoid further debt for the country, he added. (Source: Enough water for all in Selangor, KL: MB Khalid, The Star, 20 July 2010)

“I’m warning the Selangor government not to gamble the state’s future. When we have run out of water, not only PKR will suffer but everyone will be affected. Investors will stop coming.”

Selangor Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar, warning the state government to ensure water supply before a crisis happened. He also challenged Khalid to name the experts cited who said that current water supply could last up to 2019.

Noh said the state was not planning for the future, and accused it of politicising the federal government-approved Pahang-Selangor raw water transfer project, which includes building the Langat 2 treatment plant. Other Barisan Nasional leaders like Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have also played up fears of a water crisis by 2014. (Source: Pre-empt water crisis, Noh tells Selangor, The Malaysian Insider, 22 July 2010)

“[Alternative water resources] does not make sense because they are not sustainable and cannot provide supply all year round. Lakes and underground sources take time to build their water volume and, therefore, might not be able to quickly replace the amount syphoned out to water treatment plants.”

Chin, responding to Khalid’s argument that Selangor would look at alternative water supply sources. The minister said water sources have to be consistent and easy to replenish so that there would be no disruption to supply. (Source: Alternative water resources cannot provide supply all year round, says minister, The Star, 28 July 2010)

“The truth is, projections on water supply and usage in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are based on records and experience 10 years before privatisation[,] and facts and actual records for a period of five years after privatisation.”

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) chief operating officer Datuk Lee Miang Koi, refuting Khalid’s projection that current water supply will last until 2019. He says 2014 is based on a national study conducted in 2000 by the Economic Planning Unit.

Lee also said Syabas had managed to reduce non-revenue water loss to 32.36% since December 2009. But, he claimed, Syabas was unable to further reduce the figure because of a freeze order on works due to the ongoing dispute between the state and the federal government over the restructuring of Selangor’s water concession agreements. (Source: Syabas denies Selangor MB’s statement on water crisis in the Klang Valley, Bernama, 23 July 2010)

“[The project is] RM9 billion for just 15 years. What happens next?”

“No study on the impact on climate change was carried out when the dam was first proposed in 1998, despite our demands.”

DAP Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Santiago, saying transferring water from Pahang to Selangor was not a viable long-term solution as supply under the project was only good up until 2025. He also accused the federal government of manufacturing claims of a water crisis in 2014. (DAP: Sourcing water from Pahang not a long-term solution, The Malaysian Insider, 23 July 2010)

Meanwhile, the Water and Energy Consumers Association of Malaysia (Wecam) has said that water consumption levels are indeed rising. Secretary-general S Piarapakaran said the risk of water rationing in Selangor was real if the state and federal governments did not resolve their disputes.

He said pending the dispute, maintenance work on pipes and distribution mains were not being carried out, and there was a risk of losing more non-revenue water. On the other hand, DAP leaders like Santiago said the federal government was rushing the Pahang-Selangor water transfer project because it was being pressured by contractors who wanted payment.

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said Umno was attacking Selangor over water supply and sand mining because “cronies” needed money from projects. Khalid said the state would commission a study to determine current water consumption levels as the 2000 data was outdated.

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6 Responses to “Averting Selangor’s water crisis”

  1. Candima Yu says:

    I quite believe the Selangor government’s statement that there will not be a water crisis by 2014. It would be moot at this time to carry out a review of the study carried out in 2000 to ascertain whether the parameters assumed in the study have changed drastically. For a start, the industrial water demand would most probably have dropped drastically as the FDI has been reduced by 80%, and I am certain that the industrial water demand makes up a large portion of the growth of water demand. A detailed review is necessary as the money involved is too big to proceed based on a study done 10 years ago.

  2. Ellese A says:

    Again the selangor government is playing too much politics. Why doesn’t the Nut Graph interview those in the water industry. The Langat dam has been planned for quite a while to provide water from the Pahang water transfer. No one in the water industry denies the need for the water source. But suddenly the Pakatan government sees a need to leverage this politically and suddenly water is deemed sufficient. This is putting politics above the rakyat’s interest and is damn insidious and ‘jahat’.

    Assuming we have another El Nino where will we get our water. I promise you if that happens I will kick the Pakatan’s ass literally then. Stop the politics, KHALID.

  3. Sean says:

    Not another fact-free siege! Let’s see those facts, even if it will take a new study to get them. Do we really need a study? I would have thought that someone would know how much water Selangor was using and how much reserve it had on a daily basis, as a consequence of it being a commercial activity.

    Just out of interest, has anybody ever measured the water output of an air-conditioning unit in Malaysia? Perhaps that’s today’s experiment…

  4. nick says:

    It’s sad to see that politics will make the rakyat suffer. I suggest we get academicians to perform overall studies and see what they have to say. When all the water players who have been involved in treating water says its not enough, and MB says he has his own consultants who claim otherwise. Can we know who are the consultants? Are they experts on the subject?

    Anyway, please la.. set aside political differences and fight for the rakyat… it that too much to ask?

    And when the water crisis happens, when taps run dry…will the MB be held responsible? PR maybe? Or will there’s be another excuse?

    unhappy selangorian

  5. Ellese A says:

    Further, Selangor must cease to pursue profit as the middle man in the Puncak deal. Selangor wants to buy Puncak lower than market price and sell it to federal government through PAAB and expect to make a couple of billion ringgit from this deal.

    It must cease this thinking. First this is very selfish parochial thinking. It’s not sustainable. If Selangor does this don’t they think that other states can do the same. Now what if all the states do this, who do you think will suffer? The rakyat because we have to pay for it. How so? You see if you sell to PAAB at higher price then surely these water assets which is leased back to state operators will have a higher lease payment. Now this will lead to increasing tariff.

    Further where is PAAB going to get the money? Indirectly from us again. Either through tax payers moneys or from the market.

    So stop this political leveraging. They must realise that being a middle man will only increase costs. If they complain the federal government gives too much to rent seekers they, should not make themselves as rent seekers too. We rakyat see this and demand a stop to this. Be responsible. Water is not to be played as a political tool. Our lives depends on this.

  6. Pencinta Air says:

    Why does the Selangor government still manipulate this issue? Even the Federal government took the responsibility to approve the project.

    I’m worried that Selangor is eyeing to take over SYABAS soonest and give it to their cronies. That’s why they delay the project and divert this issue to the tariff hike, personal attacks etc…

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