Xavier: Lower water usage

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians need to reduce their water usage for the sake of their future, says Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar (pic).

He said the government may have to introduce higher tariffs to ensure the people conserve water.

He said Malaysians’ current water usage per capita is 201 litres per person.

“We intend to lower the water usage per capita to 180 litres by the end of next year. Singapore uses only between 140 litres and 150 litres per individual.

“The savings of 21 litres may not seem much but it is very difficult to achieve if we do not have the awareness to conserve water,” he said after launching a short video contest on the theme of water conservation by the National Water Service Commission (SPAN) here yesterday.

Dr Jayakumar said one way to conserve water was to increase the water tariff, adding that it was being studied.

“Malaysians think water is cheap and they can waste water as they like. When there is a price tag to it maybe then will people respect its use,” he said.

“Increasing anything makes the government unpopular but it has to be done at some point of time,” he said.

He said the high rate of non-revenue water (NRW), mainly water wastage made up the high water usage per capita.

“We are averaging 35% NRW nationwide. If we can cut NRW to 20%, we can save water and we won’t face water shortages.

“Cutting down NRW even by 1% can cost at least RM800mil but we have to ensure the amount we are spending does indeed cut down NRW. Reducing NRW will be the focus of the ministry in the next five years,” he said.

Dr Jayakumar also said that his ministry and SPAN were working with the Johor government to reach zero water dependency from Singapore.

“We do not want to take water from Singapore. We have asked the water state department in Johor to work with SPAN and the ministry to conduct research on how we can reach zero dependency in the state.

“We will present it to the Prime Minister within a month,” he said.

He said that the government had taken efforts to ensure clean water was supplied to the people by converting loans of millions of ringgit to the state governments into grants.

He said this was to lessen the burden on state governments when upgrading their water plants and other water-linked infrastructure.

“Loans would have to be paid back while with grants, they don’t have to. We have done this in Kedah where we (the federal government) have converted RM1.7bil from loans to grants. Other states are also asking for the same,” he said.

SPAN chairman Charles Santiago, who was also present, said that conserving water was as simple as ensuring that one did not take a bath beyond five minutes.

“Taking a five-minute-long shower every day will save us 400 litres annually, equivalent to 266 bottles of one-litre drinking water annually,” said Santiago.

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