KUALA LUMPUR: The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry has commissioned a nationwide audit on the water industry in anticipation of longer droughts that the nation is expected to face due to climate change.
Its minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the country was expected to see its water resources reduced by 20% to 25% from 2025 to 2030.
Despite that looming threat, Malaysia’s water industry was not equipped to effectively address a water shortage, he said.
“Our water industry at present is in dire straits. With the shortage we have been having over the past two weeks in Selangor, without a reserve margin, we are all sitting ducks,” he said.
However, it was difficult to meet this requirement as demand was outstripping supply, he said.
Dr Jayakumar lamented a recent visit to Kedah where he saw rivers and waterfalls so dry that the forest caught on fire.
“We’ve never had that before – this is a sign that we have to get our act together,” he said at the Pantai 2 Sewage Treatment Plant here yesterday.
Dr Jayakumar said his ministry had commissioned the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and Water Supply Department to conduct a full audit on all states in Malaysia.
He said he wanted to conduct a holistic revamp of the water industry, including upgrading water meters, reservoirs, tanks and underground pipelines.
“That means we’re changing the whole ecosystem of the water industry in Malaysia. We have not done it for a long time.
“We are firefighting at present in all states. Unless and until we collect this data, we will not be able to plan what needs to be done,” he said.He said the ministry wanted to reorganise and come up with a master plan for the next 25 years.
Dr Jayakumar said the Federal Government, state governments and the private sector must work together to prevent a water crisis.
“We need to be prepared in the coming few years, I don’t think it (water crisis) is many years ahead, it is nearer than we think and it is definitely coming,” he said.
He also said his ministry’s study on tapping underground water sources was expected to be completed next year.
He said current data from the National Hydraulic Research Institute and other departments indicated Malaysia might have up to five trillion cubic metres of underground water.
“If we don’t manage our resources well or get our act together, we will end up like the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where its population of over 180 million is experiencing an acute shortage of water that has not been seen before,” he said.
According to a CNN report, four reservoirs that supply water to Tamil Nadu state capital Chennai have almost run dry while groundwater levels have dropped drastically over the years.
Dr Jayakumar made the statements during his speech at the soft launch of the Malaysia International Water Convention 2019 (MIWC).
Organised by Malaysian Water Association, MIWC will be held on Oct 1 to Oct 3 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Themed “Advancing Innovation, Embracing Transformation and Securing the Future”, it will focus on water 4.0, digital adoption, Internet of Things and intelligent water management system.