Use the right technology

Disruption to our water supply system has been occurring much too often but there is a solution to it. - NSTP file picDisruption to our water supply system has been occurring much too often but there is a solution to it. – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: The Covid-19 pandemic has rattled global health systems. Despite the challenges faced, the World Health Organisation has praised Malaysia’s health system, which is a testament to the way we have managed this crisis.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our water management system as water pollution continues to recur, disrupting the nation’s water supply.

The latest culprit involved industrial premises in Selangor, which had previously been caught polluting a nearby river earlier this year. Our care for the environment is not something we can be proud of.

There are too many environmental crimes taking place. We can, however, take solace in the fact that the awareness about the environment is growing as demonstrated in social media on the latest water pollution incident affecting the Klang Valley.

The biggest concern is the disruption to our water supply, which badly affects the economy and society.

There should be a sustainable solution to the matter. The truth is there is a strategy that can solve the problem. The answer lies in the deployment of the right technology, which are already in place and widely used in developed countries.

The problem statement is “The water treatment system used in the country is unable to remove certain pollutants, especially untreated chemicals, which are dumped near industrial premises. Any sign of high pollution levels, which can be measured by its threshold odour number, would prompt water operators to stop their treatment system. This is to prevent the pollutants from entering the water supply distribution network. In doing so, the entire water supply is disrupted, which can affect the economy and society.”

There are proven membrane and electro-chemical technologies which can remove such pollutants. They are, however, more expensive than normal water treatment technologies.

There is a way to minimise their costs. Instead of incorporating such technologies as a permanent feature in the normal treatment system, we can deploy them on a stand-by basis to reduce any surge in the pollution levels at the water intake point.

Once the odour sensors detect worrying levels of pollutants, raw water supply will be diverted to a sophisticated treatment system for pretreatment before going through the normal system.

This will eliminate water supply disruption. The benefits of this system outweigh its costly implementation.

Disruptions to our water supply system have been occurring too often. It is time for water operators to use the right technology to mitigate problems caused by water polluters. We cannot also discount incidents of accidental pollutant discharges.

There are ways to recoup the cost of implementing such a system. One way is to get the polluting companies to pay for it. The other is to get all companies dealing with potentially polluting chemicals to contribute to the entire cost of the new system. That way, water supply disruption will be a thing of the past.


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