We need to Start treating Water as a Precious resource in Malaysia
If there’s something Malaysia doesn’t seem to lack, it’s water. The country is blessed with abundant rivers and each year more than 900 million cubic liters of the life-giving substance fall from the sky, ready for the taking.
And yet Malaysia, or at least large parts of the country from Peninsular Malaysia all the way to Borneo, constantly faces water shortages. Recurrent droughts, whose effects are worsened by climate change, have been taking their toll. “It is impossible that a country with many water resources faces water shortage,” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi mused. But because that is the reality “this means that we are weak in managing water,” he added.
You can say that again. Many of the country’s rivers are badly polluted, while Malaysians continue to waste vast amounts of water each day: to be precise, they each use 300 liters of water daily, almost twice the UN’s recommended standard of 165 liters per day. Meanwhile, perennially depleted dams and frequently devastating floods serve as other signs of serious underlying problems in the country’s water management. “The health of our rivers and water resources are closely linked to how we manage and use the land within our watersheds or catchment areas,” Dionysius Sharma, chief executive officer of WWF-Malaysia, has noted.
To tackle shortages, the deputy prime minister has proposed exploiting some of Malaysia’s 3 trillion cubic liters of subterranean water resources, of which a mere 1.5% is currently utilized. “If extracted, it can further help meet the demands of domestic, commercial and industrial users,” he said.
Yet that, too, sounds like a simple stopgap measure. Instead, what’s needed is a holistic approach with sustainable solutions that employ both curative and preventive measures. Waste water needs to be treated and reused; fresh water needs to be used more sparingly; river water needs to be kept safe from industrial and household pollution.
Water may seem like an abundant resource in Malaysia, but we’ll need to start treating it as a precious resource while cherishing and saving it accordingly.