Fines mulled for failing to get sewage tank cleaned regularly

CYBERJAYA, 2 July 2017:

The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) is conducting a study to enforce the Septic Tank Treatment Regulations following the public’s low awareness of the need for scheduled cleaning of their sewage tanks.

SPAN chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said the focus of the study was on penalties, appointment of concessionaires, or cleaning contractors, and the fee charged for the service.

He said there were currently more than 1.3 million individual septic tanks serving 6.7 million residents in urban areas and housing estates across the country.

However, he said very few of them had their septic tanks cleaned at least once in three years as set – and the situation was believed to have aggravated after the septic tank cleaning service provided by Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) was halted on 1 Jan 2008.

“Actually, the Septic Tank Treatment Regulations have been in existence since 2010 but not enforced because septic tanks are considered as individual or private property under the National Water Services Industry Act 2008, which allows premises owners to maintain their own sewage tanks.”

“After taking into account the fact that relying on premises owners to empty the tank according to the prescribed period is not feasible in ensuring the septic tank is properly maintained, SPAN is conducting a study to outsource the service to a concessionaire with a certain rate of payment.”

He said individual septic tanks have limited storage space and are designed to store sewage water from the toilets, bathrooms, kitchens and washing machines.

If the solids that settle at the bottom of the tanks are not cleaned on a scheduled basis, sewage water will flow out and pollute the drains – and the situation will become more risky if the bacteria-filled water enters nearby rivers.

He said under IWK, the fee for scheduled septic tank treatment service was RM6 per month, while RM8 was charged for the maintenance of joint tanks.

Asked on the form of action that could be taken against premises owners who did not clean the septic tank periodically if the Septic Tank Treatment Regulations were enforced, Mohd Ridhuan said they could be imposed compounds or fines – besides being ordered to pay for the suction service provided by a contractor assigned by SPAN.

Section 65 (1) (c) of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Act 655) states individual septic tank owners need to maintain the system, and failure to do so could result in fines of not more than RM50,000.

There is also a clause under the same Act and section stating the owner of a dirty septic tank – which becomes a nuisance or dangerous to health – has committed an offence, and can be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed for up to six months, or both, upon conviction.

Mohd Ridhuan said the commission had collaborated with various parties including the Water and Energy Consumers Association of Malaysia to carry out awareness programmes on the importance of periodically cleaning septic tanks as well as conservation of water.

– Bernama

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