Tap water should be fit to drink


The original title of this article is: Rampant Use Of Domestic Filters – Cause For Concern

Increasing complaints of dirty tap water in the press and everyday conversation is cause for concern. And the increasing rampant acceptance of water filters in homes as the only way to overcome the problem is worrying.

Domestic water filters on the market come in all shapes, sizes and with claims from just cleaning up dirty, yellow, turbid and/or smelly water to removing dissolved chemical substances as well. But all domestic water filters are potentially dangerous. They can be breeding grounds for microorganisms if not properly maintained. Not only is this a danger to the health of the consumer himself, but also to the public at large, as in the worst case scenario, the microorganisms can be sucked back into the public mains by back siphonage when there is a sudden drop in water pressure.

The problem of dirty water has invariably brought about a flourishing domestic water filter business. The use of water filters is expanding so rapidly, particularly in the Klang Valley, that even those consumers whose tap water quality is satisfactory are also installing them. They are doing it not to keep up with the Joneses, but as a precaution in the event that they too get dirty water – a sign of consumers are losing confidence in the ability of the waterworks to supply water of consistently good quality.

All domestic water filters are invariably installed onto the incoming ‘service’ pipe immediately after the water meter and/or immediately 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 the event of micro-organisms being siphoned back into the mains, all fittings and their installation onto this service pipe 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 waterworks or other competent authority, is illegal. One wonders how many filters on the market today have been approved for use and if any action has ever been taken by the authorities against this rampant infringement of the Water Supply Rules which poses a danger to public health.

The rampant use of domestic water filters in the Klang Valley raises the crucial question of the extent to which the drinking water supplied by the Selangor Waterworks Corporation (PUAS) has met the drinking water standards of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Water from a properly run public water supply should be fit for drinking directly from the kitchen tap. It is to ensure that our water supplies meet this criterion that MoH has established standards based generally on WHO Drinking Water Standards which we have been using all along. Amongst other requirements, our MoH Standards states: “Drinking water must be clear, colourless and odourless. It must be pleasant to drink and free from all harmful microorganism, chemical substances and radionucleides in amounts which could constitute a hazard to the health of the consumers.”

No matter how one looks at it, the increasing complaints of dirty water spawning the rapidly spreading and more and more fashionable use of domestic water filters in the Klang Valley are a sad commentary on the waterworks authority.


An edited version of the above was published in The Sun on April 22, 2002 with the title “Tap water should be fit to drink”.

nakedeyeview.com.my 2007