SHAH ALAM, June 19 — Efforts to find alternative water sources by the Selangor government have been carried out since the last El Nino in 2005, with 19 mining ponds gazetted as protected areas in 2009.
The Alternative Water Resources Task Force Committee, formed in 2005, was responsible for finding new water sources from 87 pools before narrowing it down to 19. The new water sources have been tested since 2011 to ensure the supply is acceptable for development as raw water.
Selangor Water Management Board (LUAS) director, Md Khairi Selamat, said the tests carried out by the Health Ministry and Chemistry Department from 2011 to 2013 show that the water is within permissible levels set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“We have placed a team on the ground to monitor the ponds 24 hours a day,” he said at a seminar held to address the use of water from old mining ponds yesterday.
“Based on the calculations we have made, nine ponds will be used during the dry spell and we are confident these ponds will be able to sustain (us) for five months.”
Md Khairi said LUAS had acted responsibly and challenged their detractors to draw up other alternative sources.
“What options do we have if the rivers run dry? Are we going to have more water rationing? I think there is enough water rationing as it is,” he said.
Selangor state secretary Datuk Md Khusrin Haji Munawi said the state government had anticipated the worst with the unusual weather conditions expected from El Nino and therefore, had located the alternative sources nine years ago.
“Since we stopped water rationing last month, we have relied on rainfall and river flow to maintain the Sungai Selangor dam level,” he said.
Md Khusrin said other initiatives taken by the state were the cloud seeding operations and Hybrid off River Augmentation System (Horas), which was launched on March 13.
Present at the seminar were Health Ministry engineering services division senior deputy director Engku Azman Tuan Mat, Chemistry Department science officer Khairul Anuar Abdul Aziz and Universiti Putra Malaysia environmental forensics research head Dr Ahmad Zaharin Aris.
The four bodies touched on the methods used in testing the water samples, and the results sometimes showed traces of ferum, manganese and aluminium above permissible levels.
However, ferum and manganese are not known to have any health effects but only affects the aesthetics of the water, such as colour and taste.
Meanwhile, during the Selangor state assembly yesterday, DAP Kota Damansara assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin and DAP Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran asked Selangor Youth, Sports, Infrastructure and Public Amenities exco Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi to justify how the mining pools were sufficient by clarifying the total capacity of water supply which will be used to sustain the state’s water supply for up to three to five months for the dry season.
Yeo pointed out that the Sungai Selangor dam, at its current capacity of 43.9 per cent, was only able to sustain for 60 days.
Ahmad Yunus explained that a total of nine pools, with over 20 water pumps, could channel a total of 800 million litres a day, excluding water supply from the reservoirs and rivers.
He, however, was unable to clarify the total capacity of water supply within the mining pools as he did not have them during the assembly meeting and said the results would be revealed at a later time.
Md Khairi said there had not been other activities at the ponds as they had been tightly monitored and secured from trespassers and contamination.
“We have not released water from the dam for the past two months, which is why we need to pump water from the ponds as an alternative source.”
Selangor has carried out cloud seeding operations 37 times, 32 of which were with Luas, from March 3 to May 31.