IT is ironic that Malaysia, blessed with 2,500mm of rainfall annually, should experience water shortages. For many households — especially in Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Pahang, Johor and Kelantan — water supply is unreliable.
Water cuts are frequent. Consumers are stressed and worried. Will there be water tomorrow? Or will they be getting a WhatsApp message saying there will be water disruptions because of a burst pipe or contamination at the water processing plant?
Consumers are even more stressed when a festive season approaches or when they organise family events, such as a wedding.
Water disruptions have become too common, causing stress and pain for consumers and households.
Three causes of these water disruptions are broken pipes, water pollution and rapid urbanisation. Broken pipes are the cause of huge water losses. They also cause unscheduled water disruptions.
Water pollution is perhaps the biggest cause of contaminated water and water disruptions.
Water pollution is caused by industrial waste, sewage and wastewater, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, dumping of garbage and leakage from landfills. Deforestation and excessive logging also contribute to water wastage and water contamination.
Thirdly, the expanding urban population and the excessive use of water by consumers lead to water wastage and water shortages.
What can we do? Clearly, the responsibility of reliable, safe and affordable water rests on federal and state governments and agencies.
Water is a basic human need. Safe water is necessary for human consumption and to sustain life.
Planning for a reliable water supply, thus, needs a holistic approach.
Thus, Forum Air Malaysia proposes that federal and state agencies focus on the need to provide reliable, safe and affordable water to consumers.
There should be greater inter-agency cooperation and collaboration to ensure water pollution threats are minimised, if not eliminated.
There should be greater cooperation and collaboration between state water operators and the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) to ensure that consumers have access to safe and reliable water.
SPAN should focus on regulating and enforcing the water industry to comply with established standards and practices to ensure reliability, safety and affordability of water supply to households.
Finally, on the demand side, more awareness and education programmes need to be undertaken to promote better water consumption and conservation by consumers.
Malaysians consume way above the international standards of water consumption. Better awareness and education should promote more responsible water consumption.
DATUK PAUL SELVA RAJ
President, Forum Air Malaysia