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Seeing red over ‘no filter’ ruling

The Star Penang 11/9/2004 By SIOW YUEN CHING

THE recent directive from the Penang Water Supply Corpo-ration Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) to houseowners to remove water filters installed near water meters has sparked off a public outcry.  

Many Penangites are complaining that they have no choice but to install filters outside their homes because of the murky and contaminated water supply to their homes. 

Engineer Khaw Loo Gee, 40, said if the water authority could provide clean water supply, he would not have to install a water filter outside his Sungai Ara apartment. 

“Installing a water filter only incurs extra expenses and more work. If given a choice, I don’t even want to install a water filter, but my family’s health takes priority,” he said in an interview. 

Khaw said he spent about RM200 to buy and install the water filter and another RM48 for a dozen filter cartridges. 

The Star reported on Sept 2 that PBAPP workers would start removing the filters after Nov 1 and bill consumers for the job if they had not done so by then. 

PBAPP general manager Datuk Liew Chook San was quoted as saying that harmful bacteria could breed in filters that were not properly maintained, and that the bacteria could infect not only the water supply of the owners’ premises but also spread through pipelines to other buildings. 

PBAPP, however, did not object to consumers installing water filters inside their premises away from the loop of the meter. 

Following the announcement, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was quoted as saying that PBAPP would wait for public response before considering whether to extend the Nov 1 deadline.  

He added that the authority should also hold a dialogue session with consumers. 

Khaw’s neighbour, Agnes Teh, 31, who had installed two water filters outside her apartment, said consumers, generally, were willing to co-operate with PBAPP to remove their water filters but the water authority must assure them of clean water supply all the time. 

She added that they had lodged several complaints to PBAPP over the dirty water supply for the past three years but no action was taken to solve the problem. 

Housewife Soo Ah Choon, 53, said she would not dismantle her water filter despite the two months notice because her family’s health was at risk if they had to drink contaminated water. 

Soo, who changed her filter cartridge at least once in a fortnight, said it was absurd for consumers to install water filters at every tap inside their houses in order to have clean water supply. 

“We not only need clean water for drinking but also for washing our clothes, bathing and brushing our teeth,” she said. 

CP-Crystal Pure Industries Sdn Bhd manager C. W. Tan said despite the recent directive, they had sold about 20 water filters over the past few days. 

“Although we had warned our customers about the two-month grace period, they were not perturbed as they were getting yellowish water supply,” he said, adding that his staff usually advised the customers to monitor the water filters and replace the cartridges with new ones immediately when they turned brownish.  

“On the average, customers need to change the cartridge every fortnight but if the water supply is very dirty, they have to change the cartridge after three or four days,” he said, adding that they sold about 80 to 100 water filters monthly. 

Tan added that apartment dwellers faced a problem of installing their water filters away from the meter loop because most apartment units had concealed internal piping. 

“Customers will need to spend over RM1,000 if they want to install filters at every tap point inside their homes as these types of filter are more expensive,” he said. 

Ultra-Pure Water System (M) Sdn Bhd manager T. L. Boon said the recent directive had not affected their business. 

“I think most of our customers do make an effort to maintain their water filters as they are very conscious over their health,” he added while urging PBAPP to hold a dialogue session with suppliers and manufacturers of water filters over the matter. 

Penang Water Watch president Prof Dr Chan Ngai Weng said PBAPP should also go on a campaign to educate consumers, who might be unaware of problems arising from installing filters near water meters. 

He added that consumers receiving dirty water supply should consider appointing an independent plumber to investigate the cause of the contamination. 

This was because PBAPP had pointed out that galvanised iron pipes used in houses built before 1990 could be one of the reasons for the dirty water, he added. 


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