STORIES BY M. KRISHNAMOORTHY, SIMON KHOO, NELSON BENJAMIN, NG SU-ANN, EMBUN MAJID, NIK KHUSAIRI IBRAHIM, NASA MARIA ENTABAN AND JULLIAN KHOR
KUALA LUMPUR: The people have been praying for rain to help clear the haze. But all the signs in recent weeks point to another reason why the rains must come.
There were reports of lower dam levels with at least three of them below critical, lakes drying up in Taiping, the wettest town in Malaysia, and water rationing in Seremban.
And the weatherman says we are in the midst of a dry spell expected to last until October. If we do not handle our water well, we may end up with a water crisis after the haze woes.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik has asked Malaysians to put in a concerted effort to save water.
“If it rains in the right place, we are all right, as the reservoirs fill up. If it rains in the wrong place, and not in the water catchments, we will be in trouble,” he said when asked about the drop in level in many dams.
He said water users should be prudent, using it wisely and not waste it.
“The worst case scenario will be when the taps run dry and the authorities are forced to impose water rationing and carry out cloud seeding. We do not want to reach a stage when it is difficult to take a bath, wash our clothes and obtain water for drinking,” he added.
Dreading it is Ilan Govan, 45, who suffered without water at home and at his restaurants two years ago in September.
That was when the reservoirs had dried up.
“Two years ago, I had to carry pails of water from water tanks to our home in Cheras,” he said.
To make matters worse, water was also rationed at his restaurant Passage to India in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
“We can cope at home but it is worse when we have to depend on water for the running of a restaurant,'' said Ilan.
“Last month, I moved to Petaling Jaya and I do not want to go through the experience of those dreadful days when we could not take baths or wash clothes. We urbanites cannot just continue taking water in the taps for granted,” he said.
A resident from Taman Sri Gombak, Alice Chong, had once experienced a week of water rationing in 1991.
“I learned to appreciate water because I had gone through the most frightful time – a week without a single drop of water.
“We had to move to our relative’s house in Taman Selayang to bathe and wash clothes daily. I can survive without electricity, but not without water,” said the 39-year-old housewife.
“I learned to conserve water ever since that frightful experience. I have my plastic tub filled with water every time, in case of any water rationing,'' she added.