Explore other ways of tapping water supply
IT IS refreshing to read that the Housing and Local Government Minister is proposing to amend the Uniform Building By-laws 1984 to require all new houses to have gutters to collect rainwater from roofs to storage tanks (The Star, May 7).

For once the Government is taking a tangible step to find a long-term and cost-effective solution to reduce the use of potable water for daily use - like water for gardening and car washing.

The idea of utilising rainwater is worth a second look. However, it is prudent that a thorough study be carried out to determine the practicability of such a scheme under local conditions.

A system of collecting rainwater from the roof would comprise the following:

  • A GROUND collection tank into which rainwater from roof gutters is channeled;
  • A PUMP to deliver rainwater to a separate storage tank at roof level;
  • A SEPARATE plumbing system to supply rainwater from the roof storage tank to water closets and taps used for gardening, car washing, washing, and general household cleaning;
  • CONNECTING the rainwater roof storage tank to the public supply main to supply the system in the event of drought when rainwater is insufficient.

The idea is good but the lawmakers should not make it mandatory for all - especially for low and medium cost houses and single and double-storey linked houses - to install the separate rainwater supply system.

This is because such a system would require additional space and expense. However, it may be a viable proposal to install this separate system in bungalows, detached, or semi-detached buildings whose owners are extravagant users of water.

The Government should also consider a method of controlling supply of water to premises, and also to limit the flow of water from taps within the premises. This method has been successfully adopted in Singapore.

Another effective way to reduce water consumption is to review the current structure of our water tariff. Basically, our water tariff for domestic consumption is structured in three blocks:

(a) The first block is the lifeline quantum of 15 to 20 cubic metres per month (cm/m).
(b) The next is for use of conveniences such as water closets and the like (20 to 40 cm/m).
(c) The last block is the penalty block for any wasteful use exceeding 40 cm/m.

Our water tariff is too low to discourage wastage, to encourage water saving, the tariff for the second and third blocks should be raised significantly; otherwise consumers will not bother to use rainwater even though the rainwater system might have been installed, as required by law.

It is about time that we revolutionise our thinking on providing a water supply system that would optimise the usage of water resources. Previously, appeals to conserve water had fallen on deaf ears. Hopefully, the current water crisis in the Klang Valley may help to change the nonchalant attitude of Malaysian consumers.

nakedeyeview.com.my 2007