Sinar Harian, 11 April 2019
KUALA LUMPUR - Gabungan Persatuan-persatuan Pengguna Malaysia (Fomca) mencadangkan kadar tarif air yang dikenakan kepada rakyat mengikut jumlah penggunaan bagi memastikan golongan berpendapatan rendah tidak terbeban. Timbalan Presidennya, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman berkata, kaedah tersebut sama seperti digunakan untuk tarif elektrik yang menetapkan semakin tinggi sesuatu penggunaan maka pengguna juga perlu membayar lebih tinggi. "Fomca berpendapat kerajaan boleh menaikkan tarif air bagi membolehkan perkhidmatan yang lebih baik dapat diberikan kepada pengguna namun kenaikan ini mestilah berstruktur. Bagi rakyat berpendapatan rendah dan sederhana selalunya penggunaan air mereka tidak banyak.
"Bagi golongan berpendapatan tinggi pula penggunaan air mereka lebih banyak, kaedah ini telah digunakan bagi pengiraan tarif elektrik dan kerajaan boleh mengenakan kaedah yang sama," katanya ketika dihubungi Sinar Harian. Semalam, Kementerian Air, Tanah dan Sumber Asli telah mendapat persetujuan daripada enam negeri untuk menaikkan tarif air bagi menjamin kualiti perkhidmatan dan bekalan kepada pengguna. Menurut kementerian, perundingan untuk menaikkan tarif air giat dijalankan kerana kadar berkenaan tidak pernah disemak dalam tempoh 20 tahun. Mohd Yusof yang juga Bendahari Forum Air Malaysia berkata, terdapat kebimbangan harga barang akan termasuk makanan dan minuman naik disebabkan oleh kenaikan tarif air tersebut.
"Ini (kenaikan harga barang) sudah pasti akan berlaku kerana sudah 20 tahun harga tarif air tidak dinaikkan tetapi disebabkan air adalah satu keperluan asas maka rakyat perlu terima kenaikan ini. Kerajaan negeri tetap dengan pendirian tidak akan menaikkan tarif air di negeri ini. Sementara itu, Negeri Sembilan memaklumkan tidak termasuk dalam senarai enam negeri yang bersetuju untuk menaikkan tarif air. Menteri Besar Negeri Sembilan, Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun berpendapat tiada keperluan untuk berbuat demikian.
Katanya, Syarikat Air Negeri Sembilan (SAINS) masih mampu memaksimumkan kos operasi bagi memastikan kebajikan rakyat terjaga. "Kita memang dari dulu lagi tidak bersetuju untuk menaikkan tarif air, buat tempoh masa sekarang kita masih lagi mampu menampung kos pengoperasian. "Kita akan pastikan SAINS memaksimumkan kos operasi dan dalam masa yang sama mencapai keuntungan, kita mahu supaya SAINS mampu berdaya saing dan berdaya tahan demi memastikan rakyat tidak terbeban," katanya.
MalaysiaKini, Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020
For almost two months, Malaysians were largely confined to their homes, thanks to the movement control order (MCO). Many were stuck between a rock and a hard place due to their eagerness to get back to work, fuelled by diminishing incomes and prolonged economic inactivity, conflicting with a fear of exposure to Covid-19 which has killed hundreds of thousands globally. So, the residents of Klang Valley might have looked at their water bills between March and April and felt the low or nominal charges made their lives just a little easier in what was a tough time for many.
But, in the past couple of weeks, as the country has begun to ease into the less restrictive conditional MCO, and as new water bills have begun rolling out, some received a rude awakening. The latest bills did not just compensate for any prior low charges, but seemingly ballooned to triple, even quadruple, consumers’ usual amounts even before the lockdown. Some might have looked at the new bills and raised the issue with Klang Valley’s sole water service provider – Air Selangor, thinking theirs were isolated cases. But a check on Air Selangor’s social media channels over the past week showed hundreds of grouses from people shocked by the sudden spike. In many cases observed by Between The Lines (BTL), people who had bills of around RM20 a month previously now received bills upwards of RM90 or even exceeding RM100.
Tiered billing system
A slight spike in this month’s water bill was already anticipated. Up to February, Selangor allowed its residents, irrespective of economic status, to enjoy up to 20 cubic metres of free water. However, from March 1, the state was to begin enforcing its Darul Ehsan Water Scheme which would only accord free treated water for registered Selangor households with a monthly income of RM4,000 or less. The rest were to have been charged based on consumption, the minimum amount being RM6. Then came the MCO, which resulted in Air Selangor announcing it would suspend house-to-house meter reading between March 18 and April 30.
The bills kept coming during this period. Those that received water bills, however, just got estimations; the May bills were supposed to make up the difference once meter readings resumed. On May 2, Air Selangor started resuming its meter reading operations, after the MCO was relaxed to allow many economic activities to resume. The problem that seems to have been overlooked was Air Selangor’s tiered billing system. For domestic users, usage between zero to 20 cubic metres a month is charged at RM0.57 per cubic metre. For the next 15 cubic metres, the tariff almost doubles to RM1.03 per cubic metre. And if any domestic usage exceeds 35 cubic metres, the tariff is RM2 per cubic metre.
Many consumers claim the problem arose when Air Selangor treated the combined estimated readings for the previous months and May as one monthly consumption instead of calculating them separately. A similar incident was witnessed in the past week involving national energy provider Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) over supposedly high electricity bills, and this has affected the whole country. Like Air Selangor, TNB suspended meter-reading during MCO before resuming the process recently. TNB, too, employs a tiered billing system. If previous and current month usage is combined into a single bill following a meter read, the charging of higher rates for consumers becomes very feasible. Here’s an example of how that could happen.
Air Selangor: Higher water consumption.
But despite receiving scores of complaints about this issue, Air Selangor has not made any mention about the possibility of them overcharging consumers due to higher tariff rates – even though the volume of complaints was clearly large enough for Air Selangor to issue a press statement on May 20 to explain the situation. According to them, the higher bills could be due to higher water consumption during the MCO period, as most Malaysians remained in their homes, or because of leaky pipes. The company encouraged people to call their carelines or write to their social media channels if they felt their meter reading was not accurate. Air Selangor did not respond to BTL's questions on the matter.
When the statement was published on their Facebook page, the post was inundated by users expressing their dissatisfaction over the explanation. Most users claimed their bills more than quadrupled, in some cases going up to over RM180. “Are you saying all the homes (that had high bills) had burst pipes?” one user asked. Users have also resorted to posting their queries and expressing their anger on other posts on Air Selangor’s Facebook page, such as a post on how to make a smoothie using dates. “How did a RM6 bill turn into RM78?” a user asked. The increasing grouses of the users have not escaped the attention of consumer organisations. Malaysian Water Forum (MWF) president Saral James Maniam, said Air Selangor must do better to explain the situation.
“A four-fold hike is really unreasonable. “There are very few people who can afford to pay above RM100 for a water bill,” she told BTL. Saral claimed MWF had already raised the issue with Air Selangor after noticing the increasing volume of similar complaints, but were greeted with a response similar to the statement the water company issued previously. S Piarapakaran, from the Association of Water and Energy Research (Awer), meanwhile, told BTL that those who had burst pipes would have noticed a spike in their bills even before the MCO. He advised consumers who are unhappy with their bills to forward their complaints to the National Water Services Commission (Span).
Air Selangor, too, has yet to introduce any measures to provide relief to consumers during the MCO, except for temporarily suspending meter readings, unlike TNB which had provided a 50 percent discount for the lowest tier of their electricity tariffs for domestic usage. It’s true that there is no blueprint for how each country must deal with the health and fiscal ramifications of this pandemic, which has brought the world to its knees in just half a year. Yet, as authorities continue to battle the Covid-19 outbreak while simultaneously attempting to revitalise a stagnant economy, Malaysia must not neglect its people’s most basic needs.
MalaysiaKini, Thursday, 23 Apr 2020, 11:14 am
Water is important for food and rural development, national food security, economic development and the environment to preserve water resources (both surface water, groundwater and natural flow regimes), bio-diversity and cultural heritage, along with mitigation of water-related hazards. As the world confronts the Covid-19 pandemic, experts stress the importance of constantly and thoroughly washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand sanitisers to reduces the risk of getting or spreading the coronavirus. What if we do not have access to clean water for any prolonged time during this or any future pandemic?
Sungai Selangor is one of the major rivers that runs from Kuala Kubu Bharu and empties into the Straits of Malacca at Kuala Selangor. Sungai Selangor Dam and Sungai Tinggi Dam have the capacity to supply 344,529 million litres of water. There are three water treatment plants operating under Sungai Selangor with a total capacity of 2,700 million litres per day serving Klang Valley, Kuala Selangor and Hulu Selangor involving 1,133 areas of 1,166,842 customer accounts. On March 27, we faced the first unscheduled water disruption during the movement control order and another within 20 days which was on April 17. This water disruption caused by pollution in Sungai Selangor affected 52 percent of total account holders in Selangor.
Amid this Covid-19 pandemic, 1,292 areas in eight regions, namely Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat, faced water disruption from midnight of April 16 which was only fully restored after three days. The Sungai Selangor Water Treatment plants SSP1, SSP2, SSP3 and Rantau Panjang had to be shut down following an incident of odour pollution in Sungai Selangor detected in the raw water supply from the river.
Government and water operators are committed to providing better water supply for the general public as well as for the industrial and agricultural) sectors. Several policies have been developed and many programmes have been initiated to ensure continuous water supply. However, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, together with climate change and increasing number of polluted rivers, make some of the traditional approaches in planning and managing water resources ineffective and requires urgent assessment.
We need better policies to curb and prevent pollution at river basins. Instead of investigating who the polluters are after the incidents, it would be more beneficial to study how these polluters operate and curb the methods they use by implementing mitigation initiatives. It was suspected that the recent water pollutant was from fish rearing activities along the river. If our enforcement agencies are unable to monitor our rivers due to the length of our rivers or manpower shortages, policymakers need to aggressively think about engaging resident association and communities along the rivers to teach communities on the importance of preserving water quality, flora and fauna in rivers as the saying “kita jaga kita” (we take care of each other).
Many regulator bodies want local NGOs to play an active role in promoting awareness. This can be easily done if funds are allocated to local NGOs to reach out and work with the communities along rivers. A hotline should be made available and known to all consumers surrounding rivers to enable them to report potential activities that may pollute river basins. Large cities including Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, Brazil, have begun to heed climate change and water scarcity warning signs. In response, public officials are initiating innovative water alternatives to conserve water, reuse wastewater and harvest rainwater.
Malaysia’s water consumption per capita has been increased by four litres from 222 litres per capita per day (LCD) in 2017 to 226 LCD in 2018. Together we need to start using water wisely and stop wastage by using water-efficient products and healthy water-consuming habits. Malaysia should proactively start to look into new housing projects and new office buildings with rainwater harvesting and reusing wastewater as potential ways to meet future water demands. Our hope is “Water for people: all have access to safe, adequate and affordable water supply, hygiene and sanitation”.
In unison, consumers and producers need to be aware that water demands are getting higher and expensive while water supply is becoming scarce. Enforcement agencies need to ensure that all activities along rivers are monitored proactively. According to the World Wildlife Fund, at the current water consumption rate, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Let us not wait for an economic shutdown due to water scarcity or pollution. Policymakers have to look into obtaining and protecting potential water source to meet future water demands just like having a vaccine at hand to fight off any future pandemics.
MalaysiaKini, Thursday, 6 Sep 2018, 7:53 pm
LETTER | A growing population leads to greater pressures on the availability of water resources. Population growth brings about mounting demands and competition for water in domestic, industrial, and municipal uses. Water is also needed for agriculture and industrial, and for the disposal of waste materials. Water is crucial for life on earth. It plays an essential role in our health, economy, food production, and environment. Safe drinking water and freshwater are imperative for development and public health. Based on a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) statement, 160,000 hectares of the Ulu Muda forest in Kedah, which act as a water catchment area for the Muda, Pedu and Ahning dams, provide an invaluable environmental service to northern peninsular Malaysia.
Rivers originating from deep within this forest provides as much as 96 percent of Kedah’s and 80 percent of Penang’s water supply – driving the region’s growth. About four million people in the three northern states in Malaysia are dependent on Ulu Muda as a regional water catchment area. Potential deforestation and unsustainable logging activities, both legal and illegal, threaten Ulu Muda’s role as a water catchment area by affecting the quality and volume of its water output. The clearing of forest patches and unsustainable logging increase the run-off of soil into Ulu Muda’s lakes and rivers, making raw water supply murky and more expensive to treat.
“There has been a widespread failure to recognise water’s vital role in providing food, energy, sanitation, disaster relief, environmental sustainability and other benefits. This has left hundreds of millions of people suffering from poverty and ill health and exposed to the risks of water-related diseases,” Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) said in the foreword to the UN World Water Development Report 3. In April 2018, Malaysian Water Forum embarked on an initiative through a memorandum highlighting the need for independent research to study the impact of logging in the reserve forest of Ulu Muda by considering the economic impact towards surrounding agriculture activities, the health of the surrounding population, and flora and fauna.
On Sept 3, 2018, the Malaysian Water Forum, among others who had jointly approached respective stakeholders on the Ulu Muda issue, was thrilled when Water Resources, Land and Natural Resources Minister, Dr Xavier Jayakumar thanked the Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir for taking steps to halt logging activities at the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve. Malaysian Water Forum strongly supports Penang Water Supply Corporation Chief Executive Officer Jaseni Maidinsa’s statement in The Star on Sept 5, 2018 that the best way to protect forest reserves is through legislation. Malaysian Water Forum also strongly believes that an immediate holistic approach needs to be implemented to halt logging in all forest reserves and water catchment areas throughout Malaysia through a sole law in order to protect and preserve flora and fauna, and sustain forest and water catchment areas. All this will happen only with mutual understanding and co-operation from all state governments, rather than merely politicising water issues. Consumers or the public shall be provided with an option to report to the authorities or to share photos and videos of illegal incidents that may jeopardise the integrity of water catchment areas.
The Star, Friday, May 15, 2020, 11:11 AM
PETALING JAYA - Water consumption in the country has gone up even as the national reserve margin is among the lowest since 2008 and seepage from leaky pipes continue. Latest data from the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) showed consumption per capita in Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan has spiked to 230 litres per capita per day (LCD) last year, up from 226 litres (LCD) in 2018 and 222 LCD in 2017. The reserve margin - the difference between the production capacity of water treatment plants and the usage - was at 12.7 per cent in 2018, the lowest since 2008. Last year, it crept up to 12.9 per cent.
The United Nations set the daily water requirement at 165 litres per person every day. In 2018, seven states recorded an increase in non-revenue water (NRW) from loss and seepage through faulty and leaky pipes - Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Terengganu, Perlis and Selangor. "The level of our NRW at 33.9 per cent for the peninsula and Labuan in 2018 remained unsatisfactory. Pipe leakage, storage reservoir overflows and water theft all contribute to NRW. "Reducing NRW is one of the key performance indicators SPAN has set for operators, " said former chairman Charles Santiago in the latest SPAN report.
The report was published earlier this year before Santiago was removed as SPAN chairman. He confirmed the water consumption data for last year. In the report, Santiago also highlighted the need to conserve the country's rivers, pointing to incidents of pollution in Selangor, Johor and Pahang that had disrupted water supply in recent months. Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said it may not be entirely right to say Malaysians tend to waste water by comparing the recommended water usage at 165 LCD. Although Malaysia is categorised as a country with high domestic water consumption, he said there were many reasons that contributed to the increase in water consumption per capita in the country.
In the peninsula and Labuan, he said many migrant workers living in high-density states and a large number per household have affected the accuracy of the actual water consumption per capita. "Next is the increased use of water-consuming equipment and water faucets. Inefficient water machines are still a plague in Malaysia. Washing machines have high penetration in the domestic consumers' market and continue to increase water usage. "Other equipment like hot water shower, water tap, kitchen tap, dishwasher and toilet flushes may also lead to wastage if they are still in use for more than 10 years, " he said. Awer has recommended Malaysia to achieve 180 LCD first as a benchmark, while calling for static efficiency to improve by imposing a mandatory legal requirement for water equipment sold in the market.
"For example, water taps can reduce water usage by up to 50 per cent by mixing air bubbles in water flow that speeds up washing soaps. "The biggest target is to upgrade water machine water usage standard, " he said, adding that Awer has proposed the Minimum Water Efficiency Standard (MWES) as a mandatory requirement for water equipment in the Malaysian market. Forum Air Malaysia president Saral James Maniam said that non-water-efficient products are one of the several reasons for the increase in water consumption. Other reasons include low water tariffs, more home-based trades like car-wash shops and laundrettes and consumer behaviour."We may see a more drastic increase in water consumption in 2020 onwards due to the movement control order following the Covid-19 pandemic. "Our water is still cheap compared to neighbouring countries. We need to start educating consumers on the value and importance of water, " she added.
The Star, Monday, 23 April 2020, 12:00 AM
WALK down the city streets, in the kampung, along the beach, in the forest, in fact anywhere in this country and you will inevitably see it – plastic garbage. This is the most common litter in our country and it is not only drowning our nation but the entire planet as well. Even the oceans are teeming with plastic waste. Plastic pollution is one of the most basic environmental problems we face today. Unfortunately, we tend to forget that we are the biggest culprit behind this problem and that we have to take drastic action to reduce and ultimately end plastic pollution.
Malaysians use three billion plastic bags per year. Controlling or even charging people to use them, as is happening with the “No Plastic Bag Day” every Saturday throughout the country, and consumers in Selangor being charged 20 sen for plastic shopping bags, is not enough to tackle this problem. Controlling the usage of single-use plastic shopping bags will indeed reduce the volume of plastic waste but we often neglect to identify the suitable substitutes for these bags. Since we still need carrier bags for our shopping, there will be times when it is unavoidable for us to use plastic bags even if it costs us 20 sen. Besides plastic bags, almost all packaging – from drinks to food and cleaning detergents – are plastic.
The current plastic pollution reduction rules and policies in Asian nations appear to principally encourage the use of bags made from biodegradable plastic, paper bags and non-woven shopping bags. Most commercially-available and cheap biodegradable plastic bags are still plastic and fossil fuel-based. Only bags that conform with the ASTM D6400 or EN 13432 compostability standard are truly biodegradable. Non-woven shopping bags are cheaper lightweight bags that look and feel like fabric and are normally given out as gift bags at events or sold at supermarket checkout lanes. These should be avoided as they are made of polypropylene and are therefore also plastic despite their resemblance to cotton or fabric. They are not durable, usually contain lead and break down into plastic fibres easily, contributing to microplastic pollution. They cannot be restored, recycled or composted.
Paper bags, although actually perishable as long as they do not have a plastic coating, plastic-based glue or laminate, have a high environmental price as they need a lot of water and energy to manufacture compared to plastic bags. However, as they are less harmful to human health once discarded, they can be safely used as food packaging. Still, substituting plastic bags with paper bags will not reduce waste effectively, as paper bags are usually single-use and cannot be recycled once they become wet or contaminated with food, grease or dirt. According to a study by Jambeck et al (published in the Science journal, February 2015), Malaysia is the eighth biggest producer of mismanaged plastic waste (waste that is not appropriately disposed of or recycled) out of 192 coastal countries in the world. This study estimated that in 2010, Malaysia would produce 940 million kilograms of mismanaged plastic waste, of which 140 to 370 million kilograms would be washed into the oceans. Thirteen percent of Malaysia’s solid waste are plastic, of which 55% are mismanaged.
Small portions of trash tossed into the street are regularly washed into storm drains when it rains. These then flow into rivers and other waterways and finally into the sea, leading to microplastic pollution that is damaging to marine life. So, instead of eating healthy seafood, we are literally consuming microplastic-polluted ones. Over 100 million marine animals die each year due to plastic pollution in the ocean. Currently, it is estimated that there are one hundred million tonnes of plastic in oceans around the world. Marine plastic pollution has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, comprising 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all sea bird species and 43% of all marine mammal species. Sea birds that feed on the ocean surface are especially prone to ingesting floating plastic pieces. As plastics break apart in the ocean, they release potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), which can enter the food chain when they are consumed by marine animals.
To effectively reduce plastic pollution, we need to change our attitude towards plastic usage and disposal. Long-term solutions include the creation of innovative programmes to increase recycling and composting, and to consistently reduce the need for rubbish bags. There must be incentives and laws to make it easier for homes and businesses to dispose of waste without using rubbish bags, and for food and consumer goods to be sold without plastic wrapping and other packaging. Increasing public awareness on plastic pollution, its impact, and recycling activities is a must. It is also time to add two more important elements to the current 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) mantra, and these are Refuse and Remove.
Rather than focusing so much energy on limiting the use of plastic shopping bags, Malaysia needs to increase the recycling of our plastic waste by increasing the number of collection bins and putting them all over the country. Reduce plastic packaging for consumable and non-consumable goods with innovative green technology and environment-friendly materials. We have plenty of solutions and choices to make, but ultimately it is the will to do the right and responsible thing that matters – and this decision rests on every one of us.
The Star, Saturday, 25 Apr 2020
AS the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts are stressing the importance of regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and water to reduce the risk of getting the disease and spreading the infection. This is all and well if we have access to uninterrupted supply of clean water. Last week, taps in 1,292 areas in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat went dry after pollution in Sungai Selangor necessitated the shutting down of water treatment plants (SSP1, SSP2, SSP3 and Rantau Panjang) that supplied these areas. Water supply was fully restored only after three days!
With little or no access to water to wash their hands, how would people be able to protect themselves in this pandemic? Government and water operators are committed to providing uninterrupted water supply to the general public as well as the industrial and agricultural sectors. Policies and programmes have been developed and initiated to meet these commitments. However, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, increasing incidents of pollution in rivers and the impact of climate change have rendered most of these traditional approaches ineffective.
We need better policies to prevent pollution at river basins. Instead of investigating who the polluters are after the incidents, it would be more beneficial to study how they operate and stop them in their tracks. In the case mentioned here, fish rearing activities near the river were suspected of causing the pollution. If the enforcement agencies are unable to monitor our water sources for whatever reason, the policymakers need to aggressively think about engaging resident associations and communities living in riparian areas to create awareness among them of the importance of preserving water quality in the rivers.
Many regulator bodies say they want local NGOs to play an active role in promoting such awareness. This can be easily done if funds are allocated to NGOs that would then reach out to the communities and work with them. We can use the “Kita jaga kita” slogan in this case. A hotline should be made available to those living near rivers to enable them to report any activities that may pollute the water. Large cities including Los Angeles and Sao Paulo have begun to heed the warnings on climate change and water scarcity. In response, their public officials are initiating innovative solutions to conserve water, reuse wastewater and harvest rainwater.
Malaysia’s water consumption per capita has increased by four litres from 222 LCD (litres per capita per day) in 2017 to 226 LCD in 2018. We need to start consuming water wisely and stop wastage by using water-efficient products and adopting healthy consumption habits. Malaysians should start to look at integrating rainwater harvesting and reuse of wastewater technologies into new housing and office building projects as potential ways to meet future water demands. Both consumers and producers need to be aware that demand for water is getting higher while supply is becoming scarce. Enforcement agencies need to ensure that all activities along rivers are actively monitored. According to the World Wide Fund For Nature (2020), at the current water consumption rate, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Let us not wait for an economic shut-down due to water scarcity or pollution. Just as the world’s scientists are now trying to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, policymakers in charge of water security must study the ways and means to meet our water demands in the future.
The Star, Friday, 26 Oct 2018, 12:00 AM
Drinking plenty of water may help with weight control. A new study in the Annals of Fmaily Medicine found that people who werent well-hydrated were more likely to be obese. OUR tap water has a bad taste and odour, according to a study by Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. It’s no wonder then that we are not keen to drink it! Water from the treatment plant is undoubtedly clean but the condition of the pipes that channel it to our homes can affect its purity, taste and odour. These pipes originate from multiple sources and can be many kilometres in length. Along the way, there may be some spots where the water is trapped, resulting in the accumulation of sand or moss, which affects the odour and taste of the water.
Some pipes can even be old and rusty. This is why you see brown water coming from your faucets. Brown water is also due to burst water mains in the municipal system, repairs on water mains, extensive use of water by the Fire Department or high content of iron and/or manganese in the water. Besides the pipes, water tanks on landed property and business premises can also be blamed for contaminated water especially if these are not cleaned regularly. Microorganisms such as E. coli and coliform may breed in the water if it is stored for a long period in the tank.
Contaminated water is known to cause many deadly diseases including cholera, typhoid and dysentery. Filtering and boiling tap water before consumption is the best way to ensure the water is safe for drinking. Filtering removes sediments while boiling kills the microorganisms in the water. Rust is one of the primary sources of sediments in plumbing. If sediment in plumbing is a persistent problem, the best course of action is to ask a plumber to flush out the entire system. Flushing will not only dislodge and remove the sediments from the pipes, it will also prevent water stagnation, a risk factor for growth of bacteria.
The Malaysian Water Forum (FAM) supports Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye’s recommendation that tap water should be boiled before consuming it. Studies have shown that the level of certain minerals in Malaysian tap water is generally below permitted levels. This basically means that the water running through our pipes is actually safe to consume. In fact, the treatment process is monitored regularly according to international water quality standards. Malaysians can consider themselves lucky as we are not as badly affected by water scarcity and water safety problems as people in some countries. According to the United Nations, 884 million people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water.
Moreover, our water tariffs are among the cheapest in the world. Selangor and Johor, for example, charge only RM0.57 and RM0.80 per cubic metre of water respectively. Compared to Thailand and Singapore, which charge about RM1.09 and RM6.50 per cubic metre of water respectively for domestic use, our water prices are cheaper by at least 36%. FAM, in collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), has conducted a study on behaviour and water use practice among Malaysians. The study involved 3,050 respondents from 13 states (Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah, Sarawak) and Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
Most respondents (78%) agreed that rivers are the most important water sources; 95% agreed that sources of clean water are decreasing; 76% said that the water supplied to their home is not safe for drinking; and 59% believe that their tap water contains chemicals that are dangerous to their health. Almost all respondents (99.4%) said that education on smart water usage is important to ensure sustainable supply of clean water for the current population and future generations. Reduction of water usage is one of the ways to do this.
FAM is taking proactive steps by undertaking outreach programmes to promote behavioural change in order to achieve the target of reducing water consumption from 226 litres to 180 litres per day by year 2020. Compared to our neighbouring countries Singapore and Thailand, where the daily water consumption is 154 litres and 90 litres respectively, Malaysian water consumption is still far beyond the amount recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) which is 165 litres per day.
The Star, Saturday, 27 Jul 2019, 12:00 AM
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is not prepared to weather a water crisis, says a conservation group, warning that there would be “nothing surprising” about a shortage in 2025. The Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said the auditing of the water industry meant that the government was forecasting future demand. The government agencies and regulators in Malaysia, he claimed, were ill-prepared for a water crisis. “We can actually see this by observing a lot of water disruptions and the slow supply recovery process. “In fact, Selangor is actually facing a water crisis – mainly due to very irresponsible steps at both the federal and state levels. “There is a 50-year forecasting document. This is more like a desktop study and can be used as baseline. “We will have to see the forecasting models and parameters used by agencies involved to see if this will eventually represent actual situation,” he said.
He was responding to a statement by Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry that it had commissioned a nationwide audit on the water industry in anticipation of longer droughts that the country would have to face due to climate change. The ministry was also studying the possibility of tapping underground water sources, which was expected to be completed next year. Piarapakaran also blamed the shortages on a growing demand for treated water. “We need to look at the population and economic activity densities. “These two parameters have been on the increase as Malaysia is a developing nation and a manufacturing hub. “So, there is nothing surprising if we face a shortage by 2025.
“However, under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 model, water operators must prepare a 30-year business plan and in this, the need to develop new treatment plants, non-revenue water (NRW) reduction, infrastructure replacements and improvements. “On the water resources part, pollution control will become an important aspect,” he said. Malaysian Water Forum president Saral James said the audit into the water industry should have been done earlier but since it was a new government, it was “better late than never”. The government, said James, needed to look at public water usage patterns, adding that it was important for the public to be aware of the importance of conserving water. “The way we are using water now – if we don’t do any public awareness to be conscious about water usage, then, definitely, there will be water shortages. “This is just another way to meet water demand, but just meeting water demands – like money – is never enough,” she said. She said while tapping underground water was a good approach, this needed to be done with proper study and research.
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