Conserve water now to avert crisis, Selangor govt told

The water level at the Sungai Selangor dam was at 31.84 per cent on Saturday. — File picture
The water level at the Sungai Selangor dam was at 31.84 per cent on Saturday. — File picture

PETALING JAYA, Aug 25 — As water levels at the Sungai Selangor dam edge closer to the critical level, calls are being made for the Selangor government to begin conservation efforts before it is too late.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said Selangor folk must cut down their water usage by at least 50 litres per person a day if they wanted to avoid another water rationing exercise.

“A person consumes about 200 to 250 litres of water a day. We must reduce it to at least under 200 litres,” he said. The water level at the Sungai Selangor dam was at 31.84 per cent on Saturday.

Santiago said the state government could do better than just issuing daily statements about the water level in the catchment areas and should begin educating the public on the importance of water conservation.

“They (the state government) should use available methods such as flyers and social media to tell people to conserve water,” he said.

A multi-faceted conservation approach should be put in place as water shortage issues are a long-term issue for Malaysians, Santiago said.

“Stealing water, burst pipes, leaking faucets, these are all cases of non-revenue water which must be put to an end,” he said.

Santiago said the state administration might be afraid to announce water rationing for fear of losing public support.

“If the state announces water rationing now, it would be political suicide for the mentri besar. However, this ‘political-life is more important than living without water’ approach may lead to disaster,” he warned.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer and Tropical Catchments Research Initiative founder Rory Padfield said cloud seeding efforts on their own were only a short-term solution to the water issue in the Klang Valley.

“Technological fixes such as cloud seeding do not address the core issue, which is the average Malaysian never thinks about conserving water,” he said.

Padfield said Malaysians, particularly Klang Valley folk, had to be aware of the scarcity of water so that they would use water more sparingly.

“Malaysia has a high water consumption culture. I’ve heard of people washing their cars once a day, and showering two times a day,” he said.

“In other countries where people are more aware of water shortage issues, they are more unlikely to use water excessively.”

Padfield added the authorities could promote the use of water-efficient household appliances such as those available in washing machines, dishwashers and toilet flushing systems.

“Though they are more expensive, the water saved would reduce the bill in the long run, saving consumers money,” he said.

Forum Air Malaysia, meanwhile, asked Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s administration to be “more transparent over the issue as the public is not receiving enough information.”

Its operations manager Foon Weng Lian said if the state government had a solution to the water crisis, it should release it to the public immediately.

“Based on our previous experience, water rationing should have begun by now. The Selangor Water Management Authority and state government are saying they are carrying out mitigation, but the public needs to be informed if the actions are working or not,” said Lian.

Selangor infrastructure and public amenities committee chairman Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi said no decision had been made regarding rationing.

The Meteorological Department (MET) has forecast isolated rain and thunderstorms in the Klang Valley for the week ahead, although the level of rainfall is predicted to be less than last week.

MET weather officer Khairul Najib Ibrahim said it would mostly rain during the afternoons and would be spread over wide areas in Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.