Wee (front, third right) gives the thumbs-up as Lee (front, second right) and MBKS councillors and officers visit the pond where waste water has been treated.

KUCHING: House owners should check their septic tanks and ensure that they are in good working condition and not overflowing.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng said it is very important that septic tanks do not overflow as the effluent would flow out into drains and rivers.

Overflowing septic tanks cause major public health and environmental issues, he added.

“It is a legal requirement for your septic tanks to be desludged as mentioned in the Local Authorities (Compulsory Desludging of Septic Tanks) By-Laws, 2002,” Wee said.

He was speaking during a visit to the Sar-Alam Indah Sdn Bhd (SAI) Matang Septic Sludge Treatment Plant here yesterday, where MBKS councillors and officers were briefed on its operations and also toured the plant.

Wee (centre) listens to an explanation about the waste treatment process.

Wee reminded that desludging charges were already included in the assessment rates and hence the public should utilise the service.

“If there are overflows between desludging sessions, chances are that the property involved is not used for its originally intended purposes,” he said, adding that this may include shoplots used for lodging or houses used as children’s nurseries.

SAI regional plant manager Caroline Ma said that from 2002 to 2018, MBKS via SAI had collected approximately 356,097.8 cubic metres of treated sludge, equivalent to 142 standard swimming pools. 

Meanwhile, the total septic sludge collected by SAI’s three plants (Matang, Sibu, and Miri) amounted to 1,240,821 cubic metres as of last year.

“Within MBKS’ jurisdiction, there is a population of about 350,000 people and an estimated 50,735 rateable properties with septic tanks, meaning desludging and sanitation can be done,” she said when briefing the visitors.

She added that the Local Authorities (Compulsory Desludging of Septic Tanks) By-Laws, 2002 specified the required frequency of desludging for various property types.

“It is every four years for residential properties, every two years for commercial lots and complexes, annually for government buildings, schools, and religious premises, and half-yearly for hotels, hostels, lodging houses, and industrial properties.

“Here in Sarawak, desludging for residential properties is fixed at a four-year interval to kickstart the programme. The usual desludging frequency for such properties is every two years — this is practised in Malaya,” Ma said.

Wee (front, third right) gives the thumbs-up as Lee (front, second right) and MBKS councillors and officers visit the pond where waste water has been treated.

She explained the process of what happened when waste was flushed down the toilet and into the septic tank.

She said the solids which sink and settle at the bottom of the septic tank were considered as toxic material which needed to be treated prior to being properly disposed of.

“This is where desludging tankers go to properties, collect the waste, and send it to septic sludge treatment plants such as SAI here.

“In order for the septic tank to be efficient, it must be desludged regularly to prevent the accumulation of sludge which will lead to the tank overflowing,” Ma explained.

She emphasised that desludging must be done to protect the environment, water resources, and public health.

“Improper sewerage systems and the irresponsibility of residents to empty their septic tanks can cause the spread of waterborne diseases.”

Ma said that in Kuching, two systems were used — namely the individual septic tank for residential and commercial properties and the mechanical sewage treatment plant for hotels, hospitals, universities, and shopping complexes.

Meanwhile, Wee also said that becoming a smart city is not just about technology, but also about effectively taking care of wastewater management as well.

He said that the first-hand information gained by MBKS councillors and officers would help them to better serve the people.

SAI, which is ISO 9001:2015 certified, is a subsidiary of Weida (M) Bhd and it has vast experience in the wastewater industry.

Also present were MBKS acting secretary Zainab Marzali, Weida (M) Berhad senior manager Ian Lee and SAI director Hilton Law.