Dire straits:A man looking out at the Ulu Yam Dam in Kampung Batu which is at a critical level.
PETALING JAYA: Car washing and plant watering may be banned soon if the water levels in the dams show no sign of improving over the next three weeks.
An official of the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) told The Star that once a “water emergency” comes into effect, it would give its minister wide ranging powers to curb water wastage, both private and public.
“A water emergency would mean the law might be enforced to ban the use of hoses to water gardens and using potable water for cleaning cars,” the official said.
During a water emergency, Section 56 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 empowers Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili to prohibit or restrict both the general and specific uses of water, or limit it to certain hours of the day.
Surcharges could also be applied on those who use above what is considered a reasonable quota.
The law also states that those owning or using water supplies can be ordered to stop operating, with those failing to comply liable to be fined up to RM300,000 or jailed not more than three years, or both.
As an example, the official said, car wash operators might be ordered to cease operations during this time.
“We have to alter consumption behaviour at large. People are not really listening (to our warnings) because the tariff is so low,” said the official, who added that the situation was “worrying”.
Previously, The Star reported Dr Maximus as saying that a water emergency would have to be declared in as early as three weeks if rains did not fall.
Much of the peninsula has been hit hard by the heat wave, with little rain over water catchment areas serving densely populated areas such as Klang Valley.
Luas, the Selangor Water Management Authority, said on its website that the Sun-gai Selangor Dam – the state’s largest – dropped to 40.08% of its capacity on Friday morning.
On Thursday, Luas director Md Khairi Selamat said the dam’s critical level was 30%, which could be reached in 30 days if there is no rain.
Malaysian Water Association president Syed Mohamad Alhabshi said essential services such as airports and hospitals would most likely still enjoy regular supply in an emergency.
“I don’t know how long the emergency will last, but we’ll have to hold on until the next monsoon season after September,” he said.
Association of Water and Energy Research president S. Piarapakaran said a lot of economic activity would be disrupted during an emergency, and added that sufficient notice needed to be given, or else, chaos could erupt.
The last time a water emergency was imposed was in Malacca in 1991 when the Durian Tunggal dam dried up.