Water Quality Concern

By ANDREA FILMER The Star, Friday January 18, 2008

PENANG: Housewive June Loh recently installed a second water filter at her high-rise apartment in Green Lane, Penang. The mother of two said she felt safer using filtered water for the family’s drinking and cooking needs as she had doubts over the quality of the water that came from her block’s storage tanks. “The water is usually murky if it comes straight from the tap. “I have stayed here for nearly 15 years and I do not remember receiving any notice from the management about cleaning the water tanks,” said Loh, 44. With more than half of Penang’s population living in high-rises and depend on storage water for daily use, a major concern is whether the water tanks are properly maintained.

Water Watch Penang President Prof Chan Ngai Weng said water tanks catered to thousands of households and ensuring clean water supply was very important. “The water tanks should be cleaned every six months to a year. “The Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) supplies the water up to the meter but when the water is in the tank, it becomes the consumer’s responsibility,” he said. Prof Chan added that the government should enforce a law to make high-rise managements responsible for the maintenance of the tanks. “If there exists residents in apartment blocks that refuse to pay the maintenance fees, the management should take action against them by bringing them to court,” he said. The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) recently called for such legislation, adding that that there was currently no law in the country that compelled management bodies of high-rise buildings to be responsible for the maintenance of their internal water supplies. Jimmy Choong, the chairman of the residents association of the Mar Vista Resort in Batu Ferringhi, said the suggestion was a good idea but encouraged the government to get involved. “Unlike individual dwellings, residents in apartment blocks often do not have complete control over the management and maintenance. “I feel statutory bodies need to address the problem but without the encouragement and enforcement from the government, we won't go far in ensuring a satisfactory quality of water,” he said. A manager of a high-rise apartment block in Pantai Jerejak, who is also a resident of a high-rise block himself, said an amendment to the Water Services Industry Act was the right move. “Having a law to maintain the condition of the water tanks is a good idea. “Ensuring that they are clean is something we have to do,” said the 51-year-old manager who wishes not to be named. However, there were many aspects that needed to be thought about, he added. “When it involves costing, we have to consider many aspects. The managements of some apartments may be unable to service the tanks because the maintenance fees collected from residents are very low. “Aside from that, there are sometimes problems of residents not paying the maintenance fees,” he said. When contacted, Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) senior manager (corporate) K. Jeyabalan said: “PBAPP does not offer maintenance services to apartment blocks but we believe that the management committees in these buildings should help ensure the quality of their water.

“The tanks need to be continually serviced to make sure that any leaking is repaired and there is no vandalism, rubbish or sediment in the tanks.”

                                                    June collecting water through a water filtering system in her apartment in Jalan Mesjid Ngeri.     
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                                                June collecting water through a water filtering system in her apartment in Jalan Mesjid Ngeri.