KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — As water disruptions in Selangor become an increasingly annoying problem to bear, a Malaysian geologist has looked into ancient ways to offer an alternative solution.
According to Low Keng Lok, the simple solution would be to depend on groundwater instead of surface water.
For the uninitiated, groundwater is referred to water beneath the surface of the earth, whereas surface water comes from streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs which can easily be polluted.
Low said groundwater is always produced at the point of need.
“It means that if a factory or a township needs water for their daily usage, all they have to do is to punch a hole in the ground and get the water out through a tube well.”
By doing so, Low said the source of water will be at the point of need and segregated from other sources should there be any contamination or problems.
At the moment, millions of households depend on one main source of water; hence if the source is polluted, the entire accounts under the water management agency will be affected until the water is restored.
To effectively solve the problem, Low said it would make more sense to have one tube well for each small township or a residential area to supply groundwater to a few thousands of accounts rather than relying on one source for millions of users.
“So if there’s contamination at one water source, not everybody will be affected by the water cut.
“All you have to do is to form a small new water treatment company to take care of its accounts within its jurisdiction,” he added.
He pointed out that many factories in Selangor are now using groundwater after it was regulated in the state a few years ago.
“All the factory needs to do is to install a meter and pay for the water to the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS).”
Low said if this alternative system was rolled out nationwide, it would solve both the freshwater shortage problem in rural areas and the water woes in Selangor.
According to Low, the implementation of the alternative system was simple and could be connected to the current water distribution system.
“There won’t be any changes to the current system apart from the source of the water.”
However, he said the only challenge would be subsistence of the ground, which mostly happens in dense urban areas.
“Subsistence occurs when the extraction amount of the groundwater is more than the recharge.
“But there are ways to calculate and control the extraction amount of the water to avoid any subsistence,” he added.
Low also noted that groundwater is also prone to pollution but its chances were much lower than surface water.
“There are some changes of pesticides and agriculture fertilisers to enter the groundwater but it takes years for it to happen as groundwater does not flow like a river,” he said.
Low also used Denmark as an example where over 90 per cent of its water supply comes from the ground.
Closer to home, he said Kota Baru in Kelantan uses 50 per cent of its freshwater supply from the ground due to the poor quality of surface water.