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Why cut water for up to four days in Penang?

Let us save Penang's long tradition of having one of the best and most competent water authorities in the world

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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.

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.

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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

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
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Chuah cl
Chuah cl
11 Jan 2024 9.08am

We have water coming into our main. Gurney Drive, Georgetown.
As I explained earlier,we really don’t have to be disrupted. Their over buffering for bad planning are causing all Penangites great inconveniences, unnecessary anxiety and tremendous financial losses.
Mind you,for so much bad execution there will be a lot of disinformed public singing praises for ‘work well-done ‘ .
7am 11_1_2024.

9 Jan 2024 2.25pm

Totally agree with you. Single pipe and 2 control valve design that require maintenance at the same time by disstrupting water supply to almost entire state…doesn’t make sense. There is something more to this.
So in next 40 or 50 years the next generation will face this situation again? WCP 2030 taking measures to ensure proper water supply until 2030 as quoted in The Star..this must be a joke. They are suppose ensure proper water supply indefinitely unless due to mother nature intervention. Maintenance reasons not acceptable.

10 Jan 2024 7.43am
Reply to  AndRam

Now, it happen lots of smarties give opinions. Before that it seem they are all empty heads and no suggestions.

9 Jan 2024 1.06pm

Giving the PBA the benefit of doubt that the supposedly “worn out” big valves needed some tedious work and time to be replaced, the core of the issue is the actual distribution and the suppy of the water from the source to the users that should be regulated and quickly deliver to the many users at the shortest time possible (having said that the PBA especially the chief [allegedly] would not even consider a proposal for the efficient and uniform distribution of water pipings network, so the water distribution network are like the traffic in the third-worlds that are full of potholes, traffic standstill without even the traffic lights but full of heavy traffics!)

8 Jan 2024 7.47pm

I would be the 1st to lodge a report if I fail to get water on 10th Jan 24.

8 Jan 2024 7.46pm

You r selfish, thinking of the Islanders what about us on the mainland, from forgotten as usual.

Chuah cl
Chuah cl
10 Jan 2024 4.39pm
Reply to  C.Chandra

I am not selfish, I am more familiar to the island water supply situatios that was why I commented more on it. Overall the disruptions should never be more than 1 day for valves change. My intention was to comment on the none committed, unprofessional and couldn’t careless attitude of the PBA management. Millions of Penangites are suffering n millions of ringgits are lost, PBA has to buck up.

11 Jan 2024 8.31pm
Reply to  Chuah cl


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