CCTV cameras will not solve Selangor’s water problem, says IWK

It is also not viable to place 24-hour man supervision at the plants to monitor odour pollution, says IWK CEO


IT IS not feasible to control vandalism on and around piping and water waste treatment facilities, Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) said in defence to its standard operating procedure of managing the country’s sewerage system.

This includes the proposal to instal closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at its tens of thousands of manholes and seal-affected manholes that are connected to the affected sewerage treatment plants (STPs) every time pollution occurs.

IWK CEO Narendran Maniam said currently, there are about 80,000 manholes at raw water catchment areas throughout the nation.

The manholes are part of the 1,500 STP operated by IWK at the upstream level, before ejecting the effluent into the river, which will then be treated for end users by Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor).

“We can instal CCTV cameras, but there’ll be the risk of theft as these will be placed at public places. So, how do you expect us to monitor all manholes, together with the cameras at one time?

“Additionally, we cannot simply seal the manholes because our tanks need to pump out the sewage and transfer it to other plants every week. Otherwise, it will overflow,” he told The Malaysian Reserve last week.

Narendran said it is also not viable to place 24-hour man supervision at the plants to monitor odour pollution.

On Dec 21, the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant (LRA) was forced to cease operations due to odour pollution, which was caused by irresponsible parties disposing illegal waste with solvent at the inlet around the IWK plant in Bandar Bukit Mahkota, Cheras.

Following the closure, 328,957 registered subscribers or 1.5 million residents in 366 areas in Petaling, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang were affected. Until now, the IWK plant is yet to resume operations.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari blamed IWK for allowing the plant to operate without man supervision after working hours, causing the water to reach the Sungai Semenyih LRA, which is about 12km down the stream.

Noting that this was the third time that such an incident took place, Amirudin said the state had previously proposed to take over the sewerage management.

Meanwhile, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar refuted the blame and accused the Selangor government of failing to address pollution issues at the water source stream.

River and water sources fall under the state’s responsibility and managed by the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS).

“Sungai Semenyih is so long, do you expect us to close all of the sewerage systems?” Dr Xavier reportedly said.

Narendran said currently, there are 33 manholes operating in Bandar Bukit Mahkota, channelling to its centralised STP outlet. It was reported that IWK had agreed to permanently close all 20 manholes in the area for now.

Nevertheless, Narendran said the company is expected to start installing CCTV cameras at potential crime spots to monitor the manholes, while 24-hour man supervisions have already been enforced at the facility.

He estimated the camera instalments to cost around RM20,000, while up to RM3,000 will have to be spent weekly to pump out water waste from the closed manhole, which Narendran described as an “unnecessary cost” to IWK.

“This is so troublesome. Is this a good solution? Definitely not.

“We need to find and charge the culprit who dumped the waste in the manhole.

“This is vandalism. Those factories near the water catchment area must be monitored by the local government or the environmental department. They need to patrol the area as there are many tanks passing by the manholes every day.

“Also, we need to check the criteria of the waste they produce and how it is being disposed of,” he said.