Water Woes In Klang Valley Pg 2

2.5 Water conservation

The final point put forward by the Mentri Besar of Selangor was to step up water conservation efforts.
The study by the World Bank has shown that the minimum water requirement for a person to fulfill basic needs is 50 litres a day. However, the Malaysian water usage per person is over 200litres per day which is one of the highest in the region in comparison to Singapore (about 150 litres) and Thailand (about 90 litres).

The authorities responsible for water should have aggressively embarked on measures to conserve water and reduce wastage. Besides the usual campaign to advise the consumers to reduce water wastage in their daily consumption, there are other effective approaches that the Government can take to conserve water and reduce wastage.

The authorities, for a start can:-

(a). Legislate to penalize those who use water wastefully and excessively beyond a certain monthly quantity and to disconnect supply to such users who disobey. In addition, impose measures physically by installing constant flow valves to prevent wasteful usage in domestic premises. To limit the supply of potable water from the supply main to premises, a constant flow valve, say set at a rate of 20 liters per minute, can be installed immediately after the water meter. This would regulate the rate of flow of water to the premises without appreciably reducing the pressure to the roof storage tank and the kitchen tap.
Other constant flow valves, set at a rate of 9 liters per minute, can be installed at all water taps connected to the roof storage tank. This would minimise water wastage especially in tooth brushing, bathing and the like. The above method has been successfully adopted in Singapore.

(b). Revise the current structure of the water tariff. Currently in the Klang Valley, the tariff for domestic consumption is structured in three blocks as follows:

(i) The first block is for the lifeline quantum of 20 cubic meters per month (cm/m) @ 57 sen per cubic meter;

(ii) The next block 21 to 35 (cm/m) @ 103 sen per cubic meter is for the use of conveniences such as water closets and the like, and

(iii) The last block (exceeding 35 cm/m) @ 200 sen per cubic meter is the penalty block for wasteful use.
In order to promote awareness of the need to reduce consumption, increase water tariffs in the second block to 200 sen per cubic meter and especially the third block to say, 500 sen per cubic meter.

(c). It is unwise to increase raw water intakes, exceeding the maximum design of water treatment plants. In Malaysia, the capacity of a treatment plant is designed based on the safe yield of a river source. It is therefore superfluous to install additional raw water pumps to increase the intake. If this is done, it would only increase the plant’s output beyond its designed capacity, but the quality of the treated water produced would invariably be lower.

These are long-term and effective methods of conserving water and reducing wastage. They may be politically and technologically unglamorous, but they work in the long run.

With water shortage in the Klang Valley looming on the horizon, it is most disheartening to note that the water authorities are still showing an air of complacency and have not even initiated the campaign to encourage the consumers to reduce water wastage.

In conclusion, to overcome the predicament due to scarcity of our natural resources, it is imperative that we make conservation of public utilities a way of life. Otherwise, it may be too late to lock the stable door when the horse has bolted!

3. Implementation of Langat 2 Water Treatment Plant
It was reported in the media that, according to Syabas, the current average water demand in the Klang valley and Putrajaya was 4,362 million litres per day (MLD) – close to the treatment plants’ daily production capacity of 4,371 MLD. The reserve is very low which would disrupt the water supply system during a dry spell and Syabas announced that it might have to start water rationing. The annual increase in water demand is estimated at about 3.5% and this shows that by next year (2003) the demand would exceed supply if no immediate actions are taken to reduce wastage and consumption.

However, critics were quite quick to question whether the figures of water supply and demand provided by Syabas was “manufactured” as a ploy to hasten to construction of the costly Langat 2 project.
The estimated cost of Langat 2 project is about RM8.5 bil and when completed it is expected to treat about 1.9 billion litres of treated water to be channeled to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya until 2025.

The water issues in the Klang Valley has been much talked about since 2008 and worsened since the Selangor Government refused to cooperate with the Federal Government in the implementation of the Sg. Langat 2 project.

The Selangor state government had insisted that it was crucial for it to take over the state’s entire water industry to ensure that the residents can get cheap and clear water supply. Under the concession agreement, Syabas was supposed to raise tariffs by 37% in 2009 followed by 25% and 29% increases within the next six years. But this did not materialize as the state government claimed that Syabas did not fulfill certain criteria for that hike. However, if the state were to manage the water industry, the tariff increase would only be an initial 12% followed by two 12% rises within the same time frame.

The situation now appears to be in a state of limbo. To avoid the impending water shortage, the Selangor state government announced that it would pay to upgrade two water treatment plants at RM225 million. The two plants, Sg Selangor 1 & 2 (SSP 1&2) are currently running below their maximum capacities due to infrastructure limitations to channel treated water out to the water supply network.

The Selangor state government should start implementing the two water mitigation projects now as Selangor may encounter treated water shortage next year. Even if construction of Langgat 2 project were to commence now, it would only be completed after 2014!

Like it or not, Sg Langat project has to be implemented sooner or later. Besides the delay in the implementation of this interstate water transfer project, another area of concern is the project's estimated cost. When the design of this scheme started in 1999, the total cost was estimated at less than RM3 billion. However, from the recent report in the local dailies, the estimate has suddenly escalated to nearly RM5 billion! God only knows what the cost will be if the project is further delayed.

To implement the Langat 2 project, the Selangor state government should insist that the contractor/s for the project should be chosen based on open tenders.

From all the above, it would be more prudent to implement water projects early in order to meet demand well before the situation becomes critical, as was the case for Selangor in 2008. And this should be done first while the long-term overall revamp of the water industry in Selangor is being looked into. Bi-partisan cooperation between the Federal and Selangor State government is vital to seek an amicable solution to the current impasse for the benefit of all residents in the state of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

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