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Press Release: Selangor ADUN Invents A New Engineering Theory In Water Demand Forecasting


DATE: 26th MARCH 2012 (MONDAY)


A Selangor state assemblyman (ADUN), YB Lee Kim Sin has refuted statistical analysis relating to impending 2014 water crisis in Selangor (published in Nanyang Siang Pau on 22 March 2012). He has also introduced a new theory behind calculation of water demand by EXCLUDING Non-Revenue Water (NRW). NRW is the difference between the volume of water put into a water distribution system and the volume of water that is billed to customers. In other word, the water that is lost in the system is known as NRW. Indirectly, he is suggesting that Selangor only will calculate treated water consumed by people and businesses as the 'Real Water Demand' and need not to calculate the loss of treated water (NRW) along the distribution system to forecast future demand. He has also argued on statistics without any solid proof.

He did mention that the raw water supply is sufficient to fill up all the dams in Selangor state. However, he did not address any supply and demand issues in his argument. He was also using a lapse report, National Water Resources Study (2000 - 2050) to argue. This report is being amended and the new version should be out anytime soon. However, AWER’s water demand forecast model did not use any statistics from this report as we found many errors in the report. We used real operational demand report via national statistics that are published in Malaysia Water Industry Guide.

Lately, Selangor state government has been on the defensive stance when it comes to water services industry restructuring via the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA) model. They have gone to the extent of using rainwater, groundwater and ex-mining lakes as alternative water resources but fail to acknowledge water supply insecurity. It is evident that the state government is 'twisting facts' and confuses the public.

AWER stand by our linear modelling results with 1% reserve margin for water supply system to operate at a critical level. This explains why even as low as 2.5% annual demand increase will lead to water supply insecurity. The 1% reserve margin is to cater sudden pipe burst or supply disruption due to maintenance and repair works or any unforeseen circumstances.

In water demand forecast, NRW MUST BE INCLUDED as part of the design. When we fail to include NRW in the water demand forecast, it eventually will cause insufficient supply of water to the consumers. This is mainly because the rate of NRW in Selangor remains high and the piping systems deliver water for consumption and leakages at the same time. There is no system that can cater water for consumption and leakages separately.

The ADUN also claimed that NRW should be at 20% for Selangor since Penang is just 19%. Penang is a relatively very small state with very high connection per kilometer (km) for piping network which is 110 connections per km. This is twice the number of Selangor which is only achieving 57 connections per km. For Penang, Capital Expenditure (Capex) returns are basically preventing them from reducing NRW further. Therefore, it is highly impossible to reduce Selangor’s NRW to 20% by year 2014 because it involves huge Capex which will cause high impact to water tariff. The situation (NRW issue) is made worse by the delay in water restructuring and failure to implement WSIA model.

The ADUN also mentioned that dams are full so there will be no crisis. The core issue here is, Supply of treated water is near equal to Demand. If you have 10 packets of nasi lemak to be sold and 12 people wants to buy, can you satisfy their needs? AWER hopes the ADUN and other policy makers understand this example. This is simplified version of the entire scenario of water supply problem in Selangor. Furthermore, dams are design to operate to a specified months without rain. This is a design criterion in engineering. Adding a new treatment plant to a dam will jeopardise the safety margin. If the particular dam is designed to withstand 3 month drought, increasing treatment plant’s capacity will make the dam to operate lesser than 3 months when drought happens. So, what are we going to supply once the dam dries up?

In a recent press report, it was also reported that ex-mining lakes water uses less alum and chlorine in water treatment. Alum is one of the chemicals that are used in coagulation process to remove suspended solid (those particles that give colouring). This lake water is stagnant water and suspended solid will not exist in high quantities. Furthermore, chlorine is used as disinfectant to kill microorganisms and germs during the water treatment process. It is premature to discount usage of chlorine in stagnant water body like ex-mining lakes. The state government should be more concerned about the nutrients that are diluted in the water together with carcinogenic materials (materials that can cause cancer) such as heavy metals. Therefore, the cost to treat ex-mining lakes’ water is more dependent on this problem rather than suspended solids. These lakes are not natural but man-made. This will hugely impact the recharge rates of water to these lakes.

Langat 2 treatment plant should go ahead. State government need not be worried. According to WSIA, there will be NO MORE NEW CONCESSION AGREEMENT for water services industry beginning 1st January 2008. WSIA is implemented to protect the people. Therefore, if there is a concession agreement for this project or it is not done via open tender, state government definitely can drag any agency that breaches WSIA to court!

We urge the members of Selangor state government to stop politicising water issue and get the facts straight with actual studies. The statistics do not lie and do not paint bad picture about other's professional work. If the state government and its members stand by with their 'blame game' and ‘twisted facts’, we urge citizens of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya to ensure a 'Pail Squad' is formed by members of Selangor state government to fetch water to your homes and businesses when there is water crisis. Why should you trouble yourself to line up and carry water when they fail to make sound decisions?


Piarapakaran S.
Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER)

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