Taking no chances: Restaurant owner Heng Teo Chean, 47 (right) and a worker filling up water into a large tank in Taman Midah, Cheras.
PETALING JAYA: The current water shortage may be due to a dry spell but consumption habits are not helping to solve the problem.
Malaysians use a lot of water and the amount is increasing every year.
According to National Water Services Commission data, the average Malaysian used 201 litres of water per day in 2009, 209 in 2010, 210 in 2011 and 212 in 2012.
The figures are among the highest in the region, said Fomca deputy secretary-general Foon Weng Lian.
Singapore’s per capita consumption of water is only 151 litres per capita per day while the United Nations recommendation is 150 litres, said Foon.
Getting Malaysians to save water has not been easy.
In 2007, Fomca and the then Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water conducted the Domestic Water Consumption Study.
“At the end of the study in 2010, we asked respondents whether they were willing to conserve water for the next three years. Seventy-five per cent of them said they were not willing to do so,” Foon said.
The finding showed up the failure of ad hoc water conservation campaigns, he said, adding:
“The water conservation campaign must be ongoing because Malaysians really need to be constantly reminded.”
Some consumers affected by the rationing exercise in Selangor were collecting excess water each time their taps flowed as they were fearful of them running dry, said Foon.
M. Yoga and his family had been storing water in three 25-gallon buckets at their home in Bandar Utama.
The head of the household of eight (which includes his wife, four children, mother-in-law and maid) would prefer a one day on, one day off rationing system instead of the present two days on, two days off.
“We’re not at home during the day and although I’ve told the maid not to fill up all the buckets, she continues to do so because she fears the cut may extend from two days to three without any notice.
Lin Dahalan, her husband and three children are getting by with a 30-gallon bucket at their home in Puchong, but feel they are cutting it fine.
“The water goes off at sharp 10am but only comes back on to the third floor around 10pm on the third day.There’s always a possibility we could run out,” she said.
Foon said the current shortage must be seen by all as a wake-up call about the importance of water conservation and good management of water resources.
He said planners drawing up the country’s long-term water supply policy must take into account not just consumption habits but the effect of increasingly unpredictable weather.