PETALING JAYA: Water rationing can only be a stop-gap measure for the current water crisis brought about by the depleting reserve at the Bukit Merah dam.
But it is not viable in the long run, said Dr Zaki Zainudin, associate professor in water quality and modelling at the International Islamic University Malaysia.
“For me, rationing is only a stop-gap measure, it is not sustainable,” he commented on the call by the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) urging the Perak government to consider stricter rationing to allow water to be available for up to 60 days, instead of the current 30 days.
The Perak Water Committee, however, responded that rationing would be conducted only if the water level dropped to 5.18m from the current 6.21m.
Dr Zaki said that during rationing, people tended to overcompensate and store more water as backup and that it may not be a very effective measure.
He said that in the short term, the state may have to look at intercity water deployment and acquire water from other states.
With a smaller population, the water demand is not as critical in Perak so intercity water deployment can help in the short term.
“But in the long run, at the federal level, there is a need to look at more sustainable measures for water catchment areas, water resource management and better control in pollution and river basin management,” he said.
Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said the Perak government could reduce water pressure at night as usage was low then.
“But in doing so, they must ensure no contamination can enter the treated water supply system because of the low pressure.
“SPAN can identify premises, industries and commercial use in non-critical sectors and control water use, as it is allowed under Section 54 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006.
However, Piarapakaran said that as water crisis issues will be a recurring problem for many years to come, the Government must look into colour-coded alert systems to manage the crises.
He suggested a three-colour system of yellow, orange and red be used to signal what measures needed to be taken.
“For example, yellow is mild where water to non-critical sectors must be reduced, while orange is when water levels are dropping close to critical level, and red where an emergency is declared under Section 56 and there are more stringent rules and regulations.”
He added that there should be long-term planning of catchment areas, where dams are built and further expanded in stages over 15 to 25 years to meet increasing water requirements.