JOHOR BAHRU: A water treatment plant at Simpang Renggam, near Ayer Hitam in Johor was shut down on Tuesday (Apr 23) due to high ammonia content readings, exceeding the level permitted by the Health Ministry.
Johor International Trade, Investments and Utilities Committee Chairman Jimmy Puah said water disruption has affected 15,000 water account holders in Simpang Renggam and 8,000 in Pontian as a result of the plant closure.
He said the ammonia pollution was believed to have occurred as leachate seeped when the embankments of a discharge pond broke due to heavy rain.
“Ranhill SAJ (the company responsible for water supply services in Johor) was forced to stop operations because the quality of raw water declined due to higher ammonia content exceeding permitted limits of 1.5 ppm (parts per million),” said Mr Phua in a statement.
“At noon, the water readings at Sungai Ulu Benut recorded a reading of 16 ppm which meant that the Simpang Renggam water treatment plant was unable to provide clean water.”
Mr Puah said that if the ppm reading dropped to a permissible level, appropriate actions would be taken to resume plant operations.
He said 30 water tankers had been deployed to the affected areas and priority would be given to schools and hospitals.
Just last month, there was leachate overflow from a landfill in the area into Sungai Ulu Benut, affecting 75,000 residents.
Earlier this month, ammonia pollution in Sungai Sayong disrupted water supply to about 17,000 households in Kulai, Johor.
The pollution occurred when a reservoir at a bio-composite centre next to an oil palm mill in Sedenak burst, causing water containing ammonia to flow into Sungai Sayong, which supplies raw water to the Johor River.
Several water treatment plants in the area suspended operations on Apr 3. Singapore's national water agency PUB also halted treatment operations at its Johor River Waterworks (JRWW).
The JRWW resumed operations on Apr 6 after ammonia levels went down.
Singapore has raised with the Malaysian government its concerns about pollution in the Johor River as well as its long-term yield, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Apr 9 during a leaders’ retreat.
Mr Lee noted that it is in both countries' interests to work together to ensure sustainable water supply.