Most of us would typically think the water we drink in our homes comes from the river or other natural sources. True, but most people are not aware of what is being done to purify the ‘raw’ water.
Lucky for the team, the Senior Manager for Operation of the Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah, Mohamad Khairiri Mohamed Zubir granted us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the site. He spared a few hours of his time and let us tap into his ‘water knowledge’.
Know Your Water
If you are from the Kinta District, Chemor, Bercham, Tambun, Tasek and Ampang, then your water hails from the Sultan Azlan Shah Dam! Before it reaches our homes, the water has to undergo a thorough process of cleaning to make it safe to drink.
A reservoir is often misconstrued as a dam. They both serve a different purpose, but in a teamwork manner! To put it simply, a dam acts as a barrier to restrict and collect water with walls built across the river, it almost looks like an artificial lake. Meanwhile, a reservoir is a storage to collect clean water from the Water Treatment Plant and also the last storage before the treated water is sent to us for drinking.
Khairiri shared a gist of how the cleaning works:
- Raw water sources from the dam will initially go through a coagulation process to remove turbid water and suspended solid. In this process, a coagulant, Aluminum Sulphate will be added into the water.
- Then, negative and positive charges have to be created. This is done through a process known as flocculation whereby the raw water will be gently mixed with a chemical compound, Alum to form a chemical reaction. Flocculation ensures that heavier particles settle at the bottom of the tank.
- Next is the clarification process. When heavier particles sink to the bottom, clear water will become visible.
- Fine particles will then be filtered through filter sands of two sizes.
- Chlorination process, to treat any contamination of microorganisms as well as to disinfect the water.
- Fluoridation is to promote dental health, maintain strong tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
- Lime will also be added in to stabilise water pH and for pH correction.
- This procedure takes about two to three hours.
From a scale of 1 to 10, how safe do you think it is to drink water from the tap or river?
From the river? Zero! You do not want to consume the contaminants of turbid water – contaminated with impurities, debris, human and animal faeces.
Khairiri assured us that our tap water is safe to drink as it is in compliance with the Ministry of Health (MOH) standards and the Treatment Plant is continuously monitored and goes through regular analysis by MOH.
Speaking of common water challenges faced by the Empangan, so far, the sail has been smooth. However, that does not mean we can forsake our responsibility to take care of what has been given to us.
There are currently two dams under the Perak Water Board (LAP); Taiping and Ulu Kinta Ipoh for water supply. Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah started serving the community 16 years ago in 2006.