Malaysian water provider wants to start rationing

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Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - In the wake of worsening water supply shortage, Malaysian water concessionaire Syabas has decided to seek permission to start rationing immediately in Kuala Lumpur, Hulu Langat and Klang.

Ruslan Hassan, chief executive officer of Syabas (Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd) said Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya were now facing a water crisis with reserve levels at 34 treatment plants down to an average of 2 per cent way below the "safe mark" of at least 20 per cent.

The company asking for rationing approval from the National Water Services Commission listed 112 areas in Klang, Petaling, Hulu Langat and Kuala Lumpur as the worst hit by intermittent disruptions since April, affecting 209,678 premises and some one million residents.

"We can no longer supply adequate water to Kuala Lumpur, Hulu Langat and Klang because we do not have the needed reserves," Ruslan said, adding that the situation could worsen because of the dry spell.

He was speaking to reporters during the distribution of water to residents of Taman Sungai Besi Indah in Seri Kembangan, one of the areas in Selangor hit by supply disruption.

The housing estate and its surrounding areas have been without water since Friday evening.

Ruslan said the company was preparing a list of neighbourhoods that would be affected by the rationing, with supply to be cut off either for several hours daily or on alternate days.

He said Syabas had received thousands of telephone calls from angry residents complaining of supply disruptions.

The company's 42 water tankers, 6,700 static water tanks and 3,000 employees could only cope with a disruption affecting a maximum of 250,000 premises at any one time, he added.

"If the situation worsens, up to 7.1 million residents in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor will be affected. This will be beyond our ability to handle on our own," Ruslan said.

On the unwillingness of the Selangor Government to agree to the federal proposal for a Langat 2 treatment plant and a Pahang-Selangor transfer of raw water, Ruslan urged the two sides to negotiate.

"We ask the state and federal governments to settle whatever differences they have to resolve this issue to ensure adequate water supply," he said.

Ruslan said the federal government had approved about 650 million ringgit (US$20.41 million) worth of mitigation projects to cope with demand while waiting for the Langat 2 project impasse to be resolved.

These include the Sungai Labu water treatment project to meet the needs of Sepang and Nilai and Phase 3 of the Sungai Selangor water scheme to serve southern Selangor.

All the projects were scheduled to be completed by 2015, Ruslan added.

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