Bakun Resettlement Scheme residents: Water supply woes have gone on long enough, urgent action needed

Sg Asap water treatment plant appears submerged in floodwaters.

BELAGA, Oct 5: The State government has been urged to find a long-term solution to the water woes faced by residents of the Bakun Resettlement Scheme in Sungai Asap.

The residents in the area have been faced with this problem for years, with the latest incident occurring last week, where they went without treated water for three days.

In last week’s case, she said the Sungai Asap water treatment plant which is located in Sungai Koyan area was flooded.

“As the plant was inoperable due to the floods, the residents were left high and dry for three days. Water supply only returned to normal at 12pm yesterday (Oct 4),” she said.

According to Chairperson of Kenyah Uma Baha Women’s Association Sibu, Umie Liau, the water issue is caused by a host of factors.

Umie, who is a resident of Sungai Asap, said one of the factors is the frequent flooding in Sungai Koyan that results in siltation.

“The Sungai Asap water treatment plant draws water from Sungai Koyan. But each time there is a flash flood, the water will become muddy due to siltation. As Sungai Koyan is downstream of the Bakun Dam, when water from the dam reservoir is released, the water will also become muddy,” he said.

For a short-term measure, she said the relevant government agencies which include JALB (State Rural Water Supply Department) should conduct frequent checks on the water treatment plant from time to time.

“If they really do so, they will be able to detect the problem early and can immediately issue warning notices to the residents or the relevant authorities. Likewise, JALB staffs can liaise with the Department of Environment (DOE) and other relevant agencies, if they discover that Sungai Koyan is muddy or polluted.

“Then DOE staff can then conduct spot-check works in the upper river to see whether there is any excessive logging activity and so on that caused the water to turn muddy,” she suggested.

As for a long-term solution to the problem, she said the water treatment plant needs to be relocated to higher ground.

“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had on July 5, 2018, announced a sum of RM65 million for a new water treatment plant project for Sungai Asap. We hope that the project could take off soon,” she said.

Umie said Sungai Asap residents deserved better treatment from the government as they had resettled to make way for the construction of the Bakun Dam.

Chairman of Persatuan Anak-anak Daerah Belaga, Edward Agong Ajan bemoaned the floods at the treatment plant, saying that it occurs frequently.

“Flooding is quite frequent but never to the extent of inundating the water treatment plant. As a result, water supply to the people had to be cut off,” he said.

Edward also called for an immediate solution to the water woes faced by the residents. — DayakDaily