Rainwater harvesting keeps costs down for urban farms

(Left) Iqmal Fajri Danial collecting water from a rainwater harvesting system set up as part of Taman Perwira, Gombak community project. — Filepic

MANY urban farmers in Kuala Lumpur may not be affected as much by the increase in water tariffs set for Feb 1 as they use a rainwater harvesting system at their premises, minimising reliance on piped water supply.

They said the rise in water costs could prompt more farmers to consider rainwater harvesting as a viable, cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative.

Rashdan Rashid, former chairman of Persatuan Kebun Kebun Kejiranan Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation which is part of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) initiative, anticipates minimal impact from the hike.

“Through the LA21 scheme, we have adopted the rainwater harvesting system across our urban farms as a key element of our water conservation strategy.

“We saw a reduction in water usage and subsequent savings on water bills since the rainwater harvesting system was put in place,’’ he said.

He added that the LA21 programme consistently promoted sustainable water sources such as rainwater harvesting, highlighting its importance not only for conservation but also in preparing for periods of drought and water rationing.

“We saw a surge in interest in urban farming during the Covid-19 pandemic, with hundreds embracing the practice.

Rashdan says rainwater harvesting is a key element of the LA21 scheme’s water conservation strategy.Rashdan says rainwater harvesting is a key element of the LA21 scheme’s water conservation strategy.

“Some urban farmers, not currently part of our programme and who have not adopted rainwater harvesting, might reconsider their approach in light of increasing water bills,” said Rashdan.

However, Salbiah Ismail, an avid gardener from Kampung Malaysia Raya in Sungai Besi, expressed concern over the imminent tariff increase.

Since the pandemic, she has cultivated a plot behind her house, growing vegetables and herbs.

“I use a substantial amount of water for my plants, particularly during the dry season.

“Now, it looks like I should start using rainwater harvesting method to cut costs,” said the retired civil servant.

Sungai Buloh resident V. Thomas said the water tariff hike should create more awareness and need for rainwater harvesting in residential and industrial premises, especially in Selangor.

“Housing developers should build storage tanks for houses for secondary usage while factories can build underground tanks and instal pumps to channel the water for various uses.

“With climate change, it has been raining a lot more and rainwater should be put to efficient use.

“Rainwater can be used for watering plants, cleaning floors and washing vehicles, which is more economical compared to using potable water,” he added.

Thomas stressed that water should be used wisely as it was becoming too pricey and sometimes in short supply.

The National Water Services Commission announced yesterday that from Feb 1, water tariffs for domestic users in Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan would rise by 22sen per cubic metre.

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