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Johor restores water supply after weekend disruption due to ammonia pollution

Oct 30, 2017


{Linggiu Reservoir in Johor. TODAY file photo}

SINGAPORE — Water supply in Johor has been restored, the state’s water supply operator SAJ Ranhill said after pollution from high ammonia levels in the Johor River forced three water treatment plants to temporarily shut down over the weekend.

In a posting on its Facebook page on Sunday night (Oct 29), SAJ Ranhill said the three plants are now fully operational.

“SAJ Ranhill has successfully restored water supply within 24 hours. Water supply in Johor Bahru, Kulai, Kota Tinggi and Gelang Patah were fully restored by midnight,” the operator added.

In a statement released on Monday (Oct 30) afternoon, Singapore's national water agency PUB confirmed that its Johor River Waterworks (JRWW) has resumed treatment operations "as the water quality in Johor River at our plant’s intake point is assessed to be suitable for treatment". It added that JRWW has progressively resumed water supply to both Singapore and Johor.

"PUB will continue to monitor the raw water quality in Johor River closely, to ensure that the water remains suitable for our abstraction and treatment," the statement read.

"While PUB is able to step up production at the desalination plants and local waterworks to meet demand during this period, imported water from Malaysia remains an important source of water supply for Singapore."

Malaysian media reported over the weekend that an illegal poultry farm and a factory that makes fertiliser using chicken manure have been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

The permissible exposure limit for ammonia set by the Malaysian Health Ministry is 1.5 parts per million (ppm). The ammonia level in Johor River reached 2.75 ppm during the incident.

The high level of pollution forced the temporary shutdown of the three water treatment plants since Friday, and led to water supply disruptions affecting 1.8 million people in Johor Bahru.

Johor Chief Minister Khaled Nordin has ordered both the farm and the factory to be closed down.

In a separate statement on Monday, Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar called for the chicken farm to be forced to close permanently, and for the local authorities to prosecute the operators.

"Blacklist the operators in order to prevent them from forming other companies which will potentially cause harm to people and the environment," he added.

National water agency PUB assured on Sunday that the pollution plaguing the Johor River will not affect the water supply in the Republic, noting that it had stepped up production at the desalination plants and local waterworks to meet local water demand.

The PUB added that it is monitoring the raw water quality in the Johor River and will “resume abstraction and treatment of raw water when the water quality is suitable.”

This is not the first time the Johor River has been plagued by ammonia pollution. In July last year, the same factory had been partly responsible for another incident that affected the water supply to 600,000 people.

Copyright 2017 © Mediacorp Press Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Mediacorp News Group

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