KL, Selangor consumers should be compensated for water disruption


AFFECTED consumers should be compensated over any unscheduled water disruption, pressure group and industry players said.

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) president S Piarapakaran said this is important considering the recurrence of water disruptions, particularly in the Klang Valley, has been increasing lately.

The latest water contamination in Selangor yesterday forced Syarikat Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd to shut down four water treatment plants (LRAs), affecting 1.2 million account holders in 1,292 areas including Kuala Lumpur (KL).

Piarapakaran said last month, AWER had proposed to the government to amend the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (EQA), allowing affected parties to claim for their losses from the offender.

He said should the additional clause be included into the EQA law this year, the Department of Environment can start to work on the complainant procedures.

“On the mechanism and calculation, we can have a baseline on how much a company can claim, according to their audited financial report.

“As for individual accounts, this can be offset into their monthly billing through rebates.

“It is easy because Air Selangor knows how much revenue is derived from the affected households,” Piarapakaran told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) when contacted.

“Through this, polluters will be penalised at a higher rate, from the government and as well as from the affected parties,” he added.

As it is, there are no provisions in any act that allow consumers to file claims over water disruption, except through civil suits, he explained.

“On pollution issues, we cannot ask compensation from the water supplier because in the Water Services Industry Act 2006, the move to shut down the plant operation is to protect the user from consuming polluted water.

“As such, we propose an additional clause to be made in the EQA. At least there is a channel for the affected parties to claim over their losses and penalise the polluters.”

The LRA operation at Sungai Selangor Phases 1, 2, 3 and Rantau Panjang were forced to stop after Air Selangor discovered the raw water sources were polluted.

Subsequently, Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said based on the preliminary check, the solvent came from an industry or factory source.

On Oct 17, households in Selangor endured a water cut caused by a burst pipe. Households were already reeling from an earlier disruption in September, also caused by river contamination at Sungai Gong.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of KL and Selangor VP Datuk Tan Tian Meng said besides manufacturing sectors, water disruptions will also affect hawkers who are already affected by strict guidelines during the Conditional Movement Control Order.

“On principle, when you cause losses to one party, you must compensate.

“However, I cannot see how you could claim from the polluter, especially if they are small companies who have no money to pay for the compensation,” he told TMR.

Tan said Air Selangor should have a minimum service level agreement to the public.

For example, he said the water supplier should pledge to have a minimum target of unscheduled water disruption. Otherwise, they should be bound for compensation, he said.

“We do not have a choice because it is now only a single supplier or monopoly,” Tan added.

Selangor Malay Chamber of Commerce president Mohd Azli Md Yusof hopes that Air Selangor will incentivise industry players through rebates.