Do all water filters have dept's approval?

EVERYDAY we read of an increasing number of complaints over dirty tap water. It is a cause for concern and one that should have been nipped in the bud. Unfortunately the authorities didn't.

Hence, domestic users are turning to water filters for clean water, a move that is equally worrying and dangerous. These filters come in all shapes, sizes and their claims range from being able to clean up dirty, yellow, turbid or smelly water to removing dissolved chemical substances as well.

But, what most residents are unaware of is that water filters are breeding grounds for micro-organisms, especially if not properly maintained. They not only pose a danger to the health of the consumer himself, but the micro-organisms can be sucked back into the public mains if there occurs a back siphoning, a process that takes place when there is a sudden drop in water pressure.

Various makes of water filters with differing complexities of installation

Water filters are so widely used, particularly in the Klang Valley, that even consumers whose tap water quality is satisfactory are also installing them - just to be sure.

They are certainly not doing it to keep up with the Joneses, but that one day, they fear that they too would face the problems others do today. It is, needless to say, a sign that consumers have lost confidence in the authorities' ability to supply water of good quality consistently.

All domestic water filters are installed onto an incoming service pipe, immediately after the water meter or just before the kitchen tap. This pipe is subject to water pressure from the public mains as it is directly connected to them.

Because of the importance of protecting the public from contamination in case of back siphoning, all filters and their installations require the approval of the water authority. In Selangor, this requirement is mandated under the Water Supply (Selangor) Rules, 1951, albeit antiquated.

Using domestic water filters which have not been approved by the Waterworks Department or other relevant authorities is illegal. One wonders how many filters in the market today have that approval. If not, were there any action taken?

Then again, why blame the businessmen who sell these filters. Should not the quality of drinking water, supplied by the Selangor Waterworks Corporation (PUAS) meet the standards set by the Health Ministry?

Remember, it is to ensure our water supplies meet this criterion that the ministry has established drinking water standards based generally on the World Health Organisation Drinking Water Standards. A developing country like Malaysia ought to have water fit for drinking directly from the kitchen tap.

No additional burden, healthwise or financially, should be imposed on the public. Clearly, our ministry's standards on water states: "Drinking water must be clear, colourless and odourless. It must be pleasant to drink and free from all harmful micro-organisms, chemical substances and radionucleides in amounts which could constitute a hazard to the health of the consumers." It's time the authorities do just that. 2007