(File pix) Selangor’s treated water reserve margin is at a very threateningly low of three to zero per cent. Pix by Mohd Khairul Helmy Mohd Din

SOME problems can be hidden, but not Selangor’s water crisis. When the taps run dry, the long and winding queues of people, armed with pails and all, are telling signs. We do not need any other evidence.

One would not be wrong if one thought it was the 1950s all over gain. What a blast from the past it was. In fact, the whole nation has been a witness to the heartbreaking scenes of the very old and young, ambling up and down seemingly endless stairs of walk-up flats. Such evidence cannot be swept under the carpet. There may be problems that you can wish away, but the Selangor water crisis is not one of them. It is called a crisis for a reason. Repeated denials by the people who could have put an end to the problem have made it metamorphose into a crisis. It appears that the interests of the people and businesses are secondary to the powers that be. Let the taps run dry, they seem to be saying.

What really is the problem with the Selangor water crisis?

Put simply, the core of the problem is the Selangor government’s failure to complete its water-supply restructuring scheme. Experts tell us, and we are sure the Selangor government was told this, that the water-supply restructuring scheme is a necessary component for the upgrading of the state’s water infrastructure.

This they are not doing. We have learnt from the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry that Selangor’s treated water reserve margin is at a very threateningly low of three to zero per cent. If this is indeed true, then the Selangor government must be said to be giving a whole new meaning to the term “reserve margin”. Even Penang, which has its own fair share of water crises, has a reserve margin of 30 per cent. People in the business of supplying treated water will tell us that water facilities must maintain a constant reserve margin as insurance against breakdowns in the system, or a sudden spike in demand. Three per cent surely doesn’t cut it. All we need is a surge vessel to burst like it did on March 6 at the Sungai Selangor Phase 3 plant, leaving many consumers in the Klang Valley high and dry for four long days. And, we have not even accounted for the thousands of ringgit lost by businesses during the last water crisis. Water-intensive businesses may have lost more.

A caring state government will put aside political differences and rush to the aid of the people who put them there in the first place. Governance must not only be good but must also be compassionate. No politician worth his salt would want his constituents to live by the pail and street taps. People need water to drink, wash and cook. And businesses need water, too. Big enterprises and small businesses, especially the water-intensive kind, were hard put to deal with the water cut, which seems to have become a regular occurrence.

The Selangor water crisis is not going to go away. Not until the state government finalises the water-supply restructuring scheme. And, it must do it quickly, too, for the the people in Selangor to have clean water and best practice margin reserve.

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