Water security measures keep taps flowing during water cuts

Water security is key to achieving a larger vision of sustainability and development. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur
Water security is key to achieving a larger vision of sustainability and development. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur

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PETALING JAYA, Jan 26 — Klang Valley residents are all too familiar with the frustration of dealing with frequent water cuts.

Millions were plagued with dry taps on various occasions in 2020 due to mishaps ranging from burst pipes to water pollution.

These incidents proved that uninterrupted access to clean water is a crucial need in our daily routines, especially in the fight against Covid-19 where frequent handwashing is essential.

With these concerns in mind, Sunway City Kuala Lumpur has prioritised water security to ensure a steady supply of clean water for residents and businesses.

The United Nations defines water security as “the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”

Sunway aims to achieve that with its two lakes — one at Sunway Lagoon and the other at Sunway South Quay — which contribute in four different ways: acting as a drainage system, providing a sustainable water supply, promoting recreational activities, and protecting the environment.

Preventing local floods

The lakes serve as catchment areas for the city and can provide between 230 million and two billion litres of water per year depending on the amount of rainfall.

They play an important role in the township’s drainage system as runoff from drains will often end their journey in the lakes.

This makes stormwater management a breeze and more importantly, it prevents local floods from occurring.

An abundant resource of water

(Left) The lakes ensure Sunway City’s taps don’t run dry during water cuts. (Right) the water treatment process adopts a hybrid of the state-of-the-art ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis processes. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur
(Left) The lakes ensure Sunway City’s taps don’t run dry during water cuts. (Right) the water treatment process adopts a hybrid of the state-of-the-art ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis processes. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur

Water from the lakes flows into a treatment plant which helps supply 8.5 million litres of water a day to selected commercial buildings within Sunway City as well as for cleaning and landscape purposes.

This has safeguarded the city from the pitfalls of water cuts as all hotels, restaurants, universities and malls within the township can continue their day-to-day operations with minimal disruptions.

With 13 business divisions under Sunway’s portfolio, any water disruption can trigger a chain of losses and the bottom line can take a direct hit.

With a solid water management system in place, Sunway City tenants will not have to deal with water disruptions, making it a prime spot for residential or business purposes.

A recreational hub for citizens

The lakes also provide a recreational haven for the residents and visitors here all year round.

For example, Sunway Lagoon has constructed an upcycled floating island for its white-handed female gibbon Pinky at the centre of its lake, complete with swinging ropes, raised platforms, lush foliage, and a stunning view of the surrounding waters.

The island has given Pinky a sustainable new home while providing a fun new attraction for theme park visitors to marvel at.

Sunway South Quay, on the other hand, is home to the South Quay Princess, a 77-foot luxury yacht that can accommodate up to 30 people. 

The yacht can be rented by the residents for parties, business meetings, and other private events that are sure to impress guests.

A helping hand to Mother Nature

Prioritising water security goes hand-in-hand with protecting the environment. The shaded roofs on the Canopy Walk in Sunway City are installed with solar panels for power generation and equipped with energy-saving LED lights which will be turned on throughout the walkway at night. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur
Prioritising water security goes hand-in-hand with protecting the environment. The shaded roofs on the Canopy Walk in Sunway City are installed with solar panels for power generation and equipped with energy-saving LED lights which will be turned on throughout the walkway at night. — Picture courtesy of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur

The Sunway Lagoon lake has come a long way as it was once classified as mesotrophic, meaning that it had a strong concentration of nutrients, such as phosphates, nitrates, and other chemicals which fuel explosive weed growth and harmful algal blooms.

This placed it at higher risk of pollution and thus uninhabitable for fishes.

Thanks to the theme park’s efforts, the lake has been reconditioned with an innovative diffuser technology that pumps compressed air into the bottom of the lake and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and enzymes.

It is now home to a thriving ecosystem of fishes.

To top it all off, both lakes act as giant “air-conditioners” for Sunway City as they have a positive effect on the township’s micro-climate.

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) components have been implemented into the management of the lakes as well.

The South Quay lake uses a bio-filtration system with natural plants that act as “chemical buffer chambers” as they filter out pollutants like sand or dirt from groundwater that seeps into the rivers. 

This filter also maintains stormwater quality management through nature-based solutions.

Relying on bio-filters not only minimises water treatment costs but also maintains the quality of the water and ensures its safety for recreational activities.

Sunway’s dedication to water security also shows in its commercial buildings, most of which have been certified “green” by Malaysia’s Green Building Index (GBI).

Water usage in the buildings is monitored through sub-metres while non-potable water is harvested for landscape irrigation and flora and fauna cultivation.

Rainwater harvesting tanks installed at Sunway properties can collect 16,718,000 litres of water per year, enough to fill up six and a half Olympic swimming pools.

Drought-tolerant greenery that requires minimal irrigation is also planted throughout the city to create urban green spaces that function as cooling mechanisms.

Sustainability has always had its roots in Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah’s vision since the company was first established in 1974.

With water security topping the list of concerns for Sunway’s stakeholders, efforts to further reduce water wastage and improve water recycling and localisation are already in the works.

By incorporating the United Nations sustainable development goals into their business model, Sunway hopes to create value not just in terms of revenue but also for the planet and its people.

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