KUCHING: The siltation in Sungai Koyan remains a real issue that needs to be urgently addressed, in view of the river being the source of raw water supply to villages across Sungai Asap.
Belaga community leaders Pemanca Tonny Kulleh and Pemanca Umek Jeno, in a joint press statement yesterday, said the government should look at this matter as the Sungai Asap folk were very concerned about the quality of the water source.
“They claim that despite numerous upgrades of the Bakun Water Treatment Plant, the quality of the water source has not improved,” they said, in view of the recent installation of a riverbank filtration system at the plant to improve the quality of water supply to consumers.
Both Tonny and Umek, however, were pleased to hear that Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan would be seriously looking into the matter after his visit to the plant on Monday.
“We are very happy – finally the state government listens to the plight of the Sungai Asap people. Awang Tengah has come down to see for himself the problem that we are facing,” they said.
Awang Tengah, who is also Public Utilities Minister, acknowledged on Monday that the siltation in Sungai Koyan had been a major obstacle in getting consistent and sufficient volume of raw water, since the commissioning of the plant in 1998.
“The (riverbank filtration) system could ensure high quality and high capacity water production because it would not be affected by the siltation. It uses water from the bottom of the river itself. The system would also reduce the plant’s filtration load,” the minister said.
The system became operational last week, with a five-million-litre per day (MLD) capacity, whereas the plant’s current capacity is about four MLD, and water demand at 4.6 MLD.
On this, Tonny and Umek hoped that the government would really mean what they had promised.
“The people of Sungai Asap have been suffering from this misery for such a long time,” they said, noting that the two pressure vaults at Uma Bakah and Uma Lahanan needed to be rectified immediately, as the situation had also been disrupting water supply.
On another note, the community leaders requested that the government install more transformers at Sungai Asap Rural Electricity Supply Scheme.
“The power supply for Sungai Asap is a high-tension one, making it highly costly for the installation of any new electricity meter at the settlement,” they said.
“We also hope that the government could do rewiring of all houses in Sungai Asap,” they said.