Malaysia: Taps in 1.8 million south Johor households run dry

kathleen ann kili The Star 28 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: Some 1.8 million residents in southern Johor have been struck by a major water supply disruption after three water treatment plants were shut down due to high ammonia levels found in raw water from Sungai Johor.

Operations at three water treatment plants – the Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants – were stopped Saturday after a high level of ammonia was recorded.

SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd corporate communications head Jamaluddin Jamal said that residents in at least three districts, namely Johor Baru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi, have been affected by the shutdown that may last up to two days.

He said that the ammonia level of 2.75 parts per million (ppm) recorded late Friday night had not reduced as of 4.30pm on Saturday. The level is much higher than the Health Ministry's permitted level of 1.5ppm.

"This is not the first time high levels of ammonia have disrupted water supply. We have recorded three major incidents this year alone," he said in a statement here on Saturday.

Jamaluddin said the situation could be prolonged if ammonia levels do not drop.

"We urge the public not to panic and to use water wisely," he said, adding that affected residents could contact its hotline at 1800-88-7474 for assistance.

Ammonia pollution at Sungai Johor caused by chicken droppings processing factory
Bernama New Straits Times 29 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: The ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor near Kota Tinggi, yesterday, was caused by a chicken droppings processing factory close to the river.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the pollution has affected 160,000 user accounts of Semangar water treatment plant who were living in Kulai, Senai, Gelang Patah, Iskandar Puteri, Skudai, Kempas, Taman Sri Austin and Kangkar Pulai.

He said this was the third incident of ammonia pollution and based on Syarikat Air Johor (SAJ) investigation, it was caused by the same party.

“The Department of Environment (DOE) previously did not support the approval in the Preliminary Assessment Site (PAT) to proceed with the project in the area and we also regret that the local Land Office and Veterinary Department did not take stern action over the matter,” he told reporters at the Johor Talent 3 Graduation Ceremony at Warisan Sultan Abu Bakar Complex, here today.

He said the chicken droppings processing factory had to be closed immediately in order to ensure such incident does not occur again.

“The DOE does not have any authority to close (the factory) but we have referred the matter to the local Land Office and Veterinary Department for immediate action,” he said.

He added, a meeting regarding the matter would be held tomorrow, which would be chaired by the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) and related agencies including SAJ, DOE, Land Office and Veterinary Department. -- BERNAMA

160,000 homes and businesses affected after Semangar water treatment plant shuts down due to excessive ammonia
The Semangar water treatment plant was shut down due to excessive amount of ammonia in Sungai Johor. NSTP File pic.
Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 28 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd (SAJ Ranhill) has been forced to shut down the operation of the Semangar water treatment plant since late last night following the presence of excessive amount of ammonia in Sungai Johor.

SAJ Ranhill said this is the third time this year that the plant had to be shut down because of ammonia pollution.

"When this happens, we had no choice but to stop the plant's operations in order to prevent ammonia from seeping into the treated water supply system and disrupt the water quality received by the users.

"Our main concern is the quality of the water that we supply and we have to meet the standard level of ammonia set by the Health Ministry, which is set at 1.5 parts per million (ppm).

“We have taken the decision to stop treating the raw water from the river after it was found to have a high level of ammonia, which was recorded at 2.75 ppm early this morning," said SAJ Ranhill in a statement.

The company's corporate communication head Jamaluddin Jamil said the plant will remain shut down until the ammonia level at the river dropped to the required level.

"It is difficult to say how long the plant will remained shut down because we have to wait until the ammonia level goes down. Even after the plant starts operating, we have to wait for some time in order to build up the pressure before normal supply is restored," said Jamaluddin.

The plant is the main plant that supplies treated water to parts of Johor Baru and Kulai and its closure is expected to affect 160,000 account holders in areas like Skudai, Kempas, Senai, Pulai, Gelang Patah and Tanjung Kupang.

Meanwhile, consumers were left fuming at the repeated occurance of ammonia pollution that has affected their water supply.

Sheikh Mohayuddin said residents in his neighbourhood woke up to find out that they have been hit by a water cut.

"I urge the administrator (of SAJ Ranhill's Facebook page) to update us earlier about this disruption. There has beem no water from only put up the notice on the disruption in the afternoon," he said on Facebook.

He said that as his house was on a hilly area, whenever there is a disruption to water supply, he will be one of first few victims to experience it, and among the last last to get water supply back.

As for Jalaludin Hashim, he urged the water utility and all related state agencies to take note of how the water supply chain could be polluted.

He said a better filter system to avoid ammonia pollution was needed.

Lawrence Ho was more critical of the state's water resources and urged for the authorities to go after those polluting the river.

"Where did the ammonia come from? Industrial discharge? They should look at the source of the problem, not just wait for the level of ammonia to drop," said Ho.

SAJ Ranhill has urged consumers to contact 1800887474 for further information.