A boy playing in floodwaters in Kampung Bagan Panchor, Pantai Remis, Perak. The state government is learning ways to overcome flood-related problems from other countries, such as the Netherlands and Hungary. Pic by Noor Hidayah Tanzizi

Water is one of the most important substance on Earth and affects every aspect of life.

Therefore, issues related to water will always raise concern and make the news.

When children were infected by the rotavirus after taking a dip in the pools at a popular water park in Bukit Merah recently, it become a big issue in both mainstream and social media.

Netizens shared information on the victims, who displayed common symptoms, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. There were those who were quick to blame the water park operator, claiming that it had failed to maintain a high level of hygiene at the park.

The water park has been temporarily closed, but the cause of the sickness has yet to be confirmed as the results of tests conducted on water samples taken from the park’s pools will be known only in the next few days.

Perak Health director Datuk Dr Juita Ghazalie said the highly contagious virus normally spread via the faecal matter-mouth route.

She said personal hygiene was important, and urged people to always wash their hands after using the toilet and changing children’s diapers. She added that children wearing diapers should never be allowed to enter pools.

It may sound absurd that such things are allowed to happen, but they do. The irresponsible act not only affects the family involved, but also the thousands of visitors who use the facilities at the water park.

The virus remains infectious on the water’s surface for weeks or longer if the area is not disinfected. It can also contaminate other objects.

Bukit Merah was in the limelight few months back, too, when the water level at its main dam dropped significantly due to El Nino.

The phenomenon affected the water park, as well as thousands of padi farmers and domestic users in the Kerian district. Luckily, heavy rain afterwards eased the situation, increasing the water level at the Bukit Merah reservoir and, thus, the problem was resolved.

Another water-related issue that has affected Perak folk were the recent floods caused by the high tide in coastal areas, namely Bagan Datoh, Pantai Remis and Kuala Kurau.

While the phenomenon is not unusual, it rarely caused floods before.

Some environmentalists blame the destruction of mangrove areas as the main reason for the floods, while others cite the unpredictable weather pattern as the main culprit.

Based on experience, the heavy rainfall that occurs towards year-end can also cause flooding in the state, especially in flood-prone areas along Sungai Perak, as well as coastal areas.

Hopefully, multi-million-ringgit flood-mitigation projects can reduce the impact of flooding upon their completion in the next few years.

The state government is learning ways to overcome flood-related problems from other countries, such as the Netherlands and Hungary.

Hungary’s ambassador to Malaysia, Attila Kali, on Thursday offered the country’s expertise in water-management technology to help Perak prevent the state’s almost-annual floods.

He said Hungary had been dealing with floods for centuries, and was able to overcome such problems through efficient water management.

“We have many big rivers, which pose challenges to us when it comes to managing water effectively. We have learnt how to manage the rivers and control flooding over the years,” he said after attending the Hungary-Perak Business Seminar in Ipoh.

There is no guarantee that technology can resolve all water-related issues, but it will likely reduce the negative impact. With proper planning and the right technology, the problems can be tackled in the long run.

At the same time, the public and authorities must always adopt the right attitude, which is to appreciate water, in particular, and the ecosystem, in general.

A UM science graduate who refuses
to follow Einstein’s path, and chooses journalism for a more colourful life. It’s a crucial decision that helps spare dozens of labs and research facilities from accidental explosions