The current water crisis would not have happened if the supply had been well managed, says a retired water engineer.
Retired water engineer, A Somnath, 84, has had more than 45 years of experience in the planning, construction, operations and maintenance of water supply in the state of Selangor.
He insists that the current management of Selangor’s water supply does not have the basic knowledge or the experience in how to manage their operations properly.
“Most of them lack knowledge and experience in this particular discipline. They have made wrong estimations and most likely have not followed the proper guidelines in the overall operations of a dam or a water treatment plant (WTP),” he told FMT here today.
“These days there is no universality in the way a dam or WTP is planned and executed.”
“Back then everyone followed the guidelines I had drawn up and we never had any major hiccup because everything was handled professionally,” he said.
Somnath retired in 1985 but continued working as a consultant for another 10 years with a private engineering company. Till today, he has not stopped updating his notes and keeping a close eye on the latest water developments and issues.
He pointed out that Kuala Lumpur and Selangor were the only states facing the problem and hinted that the people in charge of managing the water supply are the one’s who need to be questioned.
“I have virtually overseen the construction and operation of almost 30 WTP’s. This, so far, is the worst management system I’ve ever seen,” he chided.
The Sungai Tinggi and Sungai Selangor dams have a combined full capacity of 75 billion gallons of water.
“Syabas should have taken into account the climate changes, rainfall levels and the increase in domestic water consumption, to be able to distribute the water correctly.”
“If this had been done, we would not be in this predicament. It is the distributor’s responsibility to make sure that every household in Selangor has enough water, equally,” he said.
He added that all dam or WTP designers and planners need to conduct a risk analysis study to ensure that the facilities will continue to work perfectly, years into the future.
The failure to do so, according to Somnath, is what has contributed to the current water supply management failure.
Over the past four years, Somnath had written to the state government forewarning them of the impending water shortage from the Sungai Selangor source and his warnings were ignored by the authorities.
“I wrote to them and received replies, but nobody bothered to conduct an investigation. Now, see what has happened,” he said.
When the predicted drought season hits in June, the rakyat will most probably need to depend on water from the dams.
If the Sungai Selangor dam which provides about 60% of Selangor’s water supply dries up, Somnath says that people “will have to move elsewhere.”
“That is the worst case scenario. Where are we going to get water, if, during the drought season, Sungai Selangor dam dries up?” he asked.