Thursday, May 8, 2014

Are out potable water supply safe?

Selangor is resorting to pumping water from disused mining pool to the Selangor River to supplement raw water supply to the water treatment plant. The question on everybody's mind - is the water supplied to our taps safe for drinking?

Are there heavy metals in the ex-mine waters? Yes and yes. Ashrah et al have done some study and published in 2011 a paper titled “Analysis of Physio-chemical Parameters and Distribution of Heavy Metals in Soil and Water of Ex-Mining Area of Bestari Jaya, Peninsular Malaysia”, published in the Asian Journal of Chemistry, the water can be summarised as follows.

Colour is class I, temperature is normal, salinity and turbidity is class I and pH and conductivity is class III. A lower class is better and class I is best. I. Acidic pH and low dissolved oxygen is the characteristic of peat swamp water (flowing into the catchment) and also by metal and sand mining activity.

The conclusion of this study suggests that the water quality falls into class III, according to the Malaysian Interim Water Quality standards. However this is not the final answer because before the water is piped to our taps, they are treated. Treatment implemented includes aeration, coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection and finally conditioning.

In a paper by Kurniawan et al., 2006, titled “Physico-chemical treatment techniques for wastewater laden with heavy metals” published in the Chemical Engineering Journal, it was stated that lime precipitation can be used to treat heavy metal concentration up to 1,000 mg/l.

More information at The Malaysian Insider: Heavy metals in our taps – Faisal Fadzil

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