By Chuah Chong Lai
It pains my heart to read about the unprecedented long water disruptions throughout the state of Penang for up to four days, beginning from 10 January.
Changing two sets of four-feet-long main valves is not rocket science. The Penang Water Authority has done that multiple times.
A retired water consultant engineer told me it used to take no more than six to eight hours. Multiple teams could be employed to guarantee a speedier completion. This extra management effort and deployment of more work gangs will cost nothing compared to the millions (some sectors claim it to be billions) of ringgit lost due to a prolonged disruption.
I wish to ask the following questions and sincerely hope the water authority will respond:
There must be more than one mains pipe to channel treated water out from the Sungai Dua treatment plant to various areas such as northern, central and southern mainland Penang and the cross-channel pipes. With careful planning, does the water authority have to shut down the water supply so extensively?
As for Penang Island, we were told that consumers should have 24-48 hours storage. Add that to the few hundred million litres of treated water at Bukit Dumbar and the many storage tanks throughout the island – my estimate is in the region of 600 million litres.
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Then, there’s the daily production of the treatment plants on the island, eg Teluk Bahang, Air Itam, Sungai Pinang and Guillemard – these should be able to produce another 300-plus million litres daily. Four days of production would add up to 1.2 billion litres. Adding that to the 600 million litres in storage on the island should give us about 1.8 billion litres. This should be able to tide us through four days of consumption. With a ‘save water’ campaign, the Penang Island side does not even need to have any disruption at all.
I welcome clarifications and a rebuttal.
Let us save Penang’s long tradition of having one of the best and most competent water authorities in the world.
Chuah Chong Lai, who has spent 50 years of his working life in the construction industry in Penang, is gravely concerned about what the future holds for Penang and its people