New Wangsa Maju plant may end up as white elephant
I refer to. A. Somanath's Letter "Klang Gates Dam may go empty in two years" (NST, April 3 1998) which provides a clear insight into the manner in which one of our water resources is being mismanaged.

Drawing 45mld of raw water from the Klang Gates Dam for the new treatment plant at Wangsa Maju would simply deprive the Bukit Nanas treatment plant of sufficient raw water especially during dry weather. It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul!

If the current dry spell continues, the new treatment plant when completed in July may become a white elephant. Normally in July, water level at the Klang Gates Dam is the lowest in the year and water production at the Bukit Nanas plant will be reduced due to hydraulics. There may be no water to spare for the Wangsa Maju plant to treat.

Besides the inappropriateness of this new treatment plant, the cost of building it at RM130 million is also phenomenally high. For its size, probably it is the most expensive water treatment plant in Malaysia.

The public has been informed that one of the measures to be taken by the government to cut expenditure during the current financial turmoil is to award contracts based on competitive tenders. One wonders whether this has been practised in this instance.

Mr. Somanath's revelation might have also prompted the Government to take an additional measure to supplement the safe yield of Klang Gates Dam. In a report (NST, April 14) the Works Minister announced a proposal to pipe raw water from Sungai Gombak to Klang Gates Dam and also to the new treatment plant at Wangsa Maju. He also said that Sungai Gombak would provide about 5 million gallons of water a day (mgd) or 22mld to the dam and the treatment plant.

Not too long ago the capacity of the existing Gombak treatment plant drawing raw water from Sungai Gombak was upgraded from 5mgd to 8mgd to meet the additional demand of the IIU campus in Gombak. To avoid a shortage of raw water for this Gombak treatment plant, the obvious location for the abstraction of raw water to Klang Gates Dam would have to be at a point downstream of the present intake.

In such a case, one needs to ascertain not only the quantity of raw water available at low flows but also the level of pollution of the water during low flows. If there is insufficient flow to ensure continuous pumping during dry weather or that the raw water does not satisfy the quality criteria then the project, if it goes ahead, could end up as another white elephant

It is obvious that the current water crisis has been mainly due to a lack of proper planning for our water requirements and the mismanagement of our water resources. Trying to solve the water crisis on an ad hoc basis without proper planning could result in a total waste of money and effort.

The building of the Wangsa Maju treatment plant has been shown to be not a very sound one. But trying to enhance it with a scheme which has not been fully appraised, like channeling water from Sungai Gombak to this new treatment plant and the Klang Gates Dam, may also result in failure. 2007