PUB resumes ops at Johor water plant after river pollution eases

Shannon Teoh Malaysia Bureau Chief Straits Times 31 oct 17;

Water treatment plants along the Johor River resumed operations late on Sunday after ammonia levels subsided, including Singapore's Johor River Waterworks that had shut down last Saturday morning.

National water agency PUB, which runs the plant, said it had "progressively resumed water supply to both Singapore and Johor" after water quality was deemed suitable for treatment following high levels of ammonia detected in the river last Friday night.

"PUB will continue to monitor the raw water quality in the Johor River closely, to ensure that the water remains suitable for our abstraction and treatment," it said in a statement yesterday.

The state government shut down a chicken farm and a factory producing fertiliser from droppings after identifying both, located near the river, as the source of the pollution.

Malaysia's Environment Ministry called for further action yesterday, including permanently shutting down the businesses, after water supply was cut for 1.8 million users.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the operators of the farm and factory should be blacklisted "in order to prevent them from forming other companies which will potentially cause harm to people and the environment".

He called for the local authorities in the area, such as the Kulai Municipal Council, Kulai Land and District Office and Veterinary Services Department, "to look into this matter seriously and expeditiously in order to prosecute the chicken farm owners... to the full extent of existing laws and enforce based on their jurisdiction".

While the farm and factory could face action for breaking environmental laws, licensing of chicken farms falls under the Veterinary Services Department, while permission to operate businesses falls under the local council.

Johor Veterinary Services Department director Aida Muhid told The Straits Times that the farm was licensed, but there are no current regulations governing fertiliser factories. The plant was not registered with the local authorities.

Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi said the Department of Environment had ordered the farm to relocate away from the Johor River in July last year as it was polluting the water, but it did not heed the directive.

"It is also sad to note that fertiliser farms are not regulated as of yet. We are given to understand that the Ministry of Agriculture is currently drafting such laws to regulate fertiliser farms," he added.

Johor State Minister for Public Works Hasni Mohammad told The Straits Times yesterday that water treatment plants in Johor were operating at 50 per cent capacity on Sunday and could be back to full service yesterday, if ammonia levels subsided to normal as expected.

Although the state's water supply company, SAJ Ranhill, said late on Sunday that two of three plants were operational and water supply would be restored by midnight, some people have yet to see water flowing from their taps.

Datuk Hasni explained that it could take up to 48 hours for treated water to reach the taps of affected consumers.


PUB resumes treating Johor River water as water quality falls within suitable levels
Lydia Lam Straits Times 30 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - The water quality in the Johor River has been assessed to be suitable for treatment, with PUB's Johor River Waterworks (JRWW) resuming treatment operations on Sunday (Oct 29) evening, PUB said in a statement on Monday.

"The water quality in Johor River at our plant's intake point is assessed to be suitable for treatment," said PUB. "JRWW has progressively resumed water supply to both Singapore and Johor."

PUB added that it will continue to monitor the raw water quality in the river closely, to ensure that it remains suitable for abstraction and treatment.

The national water agency had stopped treatment operations at 11am on Saturday due to high ammonia levels in the Johor River, disrupting water supply to Singapore and parts of Johor.

An ammonia level of 2.75 parts per million (ppm) - nearly double the Health Ministry's permitted level of 1.5ppm - was recorded late on Friday night.

Johor identified the source of the pollution on Sunday - a poultry farm and a factory in the Kota Tinggi district that converts manure into fertiliser.

The farm and factory were ordered to shut down.

Singapore draws up to 250 million gallons of raw water a day from the Johor River, under a 1962 agreement with Malaysia, which expires in 2061.

Malaysia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment asked for authorities such as the Kulai Municipal Council, Kulai Land and District Office and the Veterinary Services Department to "look into this matter seriously".

It also asked for the culprits to be blacklisted.

While PUB was able to increase production at its desalination plants and local waterworks to meet demand during the disruption, the agency stressed that "imported water from Malaysia remains an important source of water supply for Singapore".


Johor restores water supply after weekend disruption due to ammonia pollution
Today Online 30 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Water supply in Johor has been restored, the state’s water supply operator SAJ Ranhill said after pollution from high ammonia levels in the Johor River forced three water treatment plants to temporarily shut down over the weekend.

In a posting on its Facebook page on Sunday night (Oct 29), SAJ Ranhill said the three plants are now fully operational.

“SAJ Ranhill has successfully restored water supply within 24 hours. Water supply in Johor Bahru, Kulai, Kota Tinggi and Gelang Patah were fully restored by midnight,” the operator added.

In a statement released on Monday (Oct 30) afternoon, Singapore's national water agency PUB confirmed that its Johor River Waterworks (JRWW) has resumed treatment operations "as the water quality in Johor River at our plant’s intake point is assessed to be suitable for treatment". It added that JRWW has progressively resumed water supply to both Singapore and Johor.

"PUB will continue to monitor the raw water quality in Johor River closely, to ensure that the water remains suitable for our abstraction and treatment," the statement read.

"While PUB is able to step up production at the desalination plants and local waterworks to meet demand during this period, imported water from Malaysia remains an important source of water supply for Singapore."

Malaysian media reported over the weekend that an illegal poultry farm and a factory that makes fertiliser using chicken manure have been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

The permissible exposure limit for ammonia set by the Malaysian Health Ministry is 1.5 parts per million (ppm). The ammonia level in Johor River reached 2.75 ppm during the incident.

The high level of pollution forced the temporary shutdown of the three water treatment plants since Friday, and led to water supply disruptions affecting 1.8 million people in Johor Bahru.

Johor Chief Minister Khaled Nordin has ordered both the farm and the factory to be closed down.

In a separate statement on Monday, Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar called for the chicken farm to be forced to close permanently, and for the local authorities to prosecute the operators.

"Blacklist the operators in order to prevent them from forming other companies which will potentially cause harm to people and the environment," he added.

National water agency PUB assured on Sunday that the pollution plaguing the Johor River will not affect the water supply in the Republic, noting that it had stepped up production at the desalination plants and local waterworks to meet local water demand.

The PUB added that it is monitoring the raw water quality in the Johor River and will “resume abstraction and treatment of raw water when the water quality is suitable.”

This is not the first time the Johor River has been plagued by ammonia pollution. In July last year, the same factory had been partly responsible for another incident that affected the water supply to 600,000 people.


Johor River Waterworks resumes treatment operations
Channel NewsAsia 30 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: PUB’s Johor River Waterworks resumed treatment operations on Sunday (Oct 29) evening, and water supply to Singapore and Johor is being progressively resumed, national water agency PUB said.

The waterworks were closed over the weekend because of ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

"The water quality in Johor River at our plant’s intake point is assessed to be suitable for treatment. (The waterworks) has progressively resumed water supply to both Singapore and Johor," PUB said in a statement on Monday.

"PUB will continue to monitor the raw water quality in Johor River closely, to ensure that the water remains suitable for our abstraction and treatment."

The high level of ammonia in the river caused the temporary closure of three water treatment plants - Semangar, Johor River and Tai Hong, on Saturday.

The ammonia was traced back to a chicken droppings processing factory near the river. Malaysian authorities said this was the third case of ammonia pollution caused by the factory and they have ordered it to close.

PUB added that imported water from Malaysia remains an important source of water supply for Singapore even though PUB was able to step up production at the desalination plants and local waterworks to meet demand when the Johor River Waterworks were down.
Source: CNA/hm

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