Study: Water affordable in Malaysia


PETALING JAYA: Kuala Lumpur ranks 97 out of 120 cities worldwide for affordability of a 500ml bottle of water at RM1.42, according to a water price index study.

This is in contrast to Oslo in Norway, which is the costliest at €1.52 (RM7.44) while the cheapest bottled water can be found in Beirut, Lebanon, at €0.03 (RM0.15).

The study, released on Thursday by Holidu.com, a search engine for vacation rentals, revealed the price differences for both tap and bottled water in over 100 cities, including local indicators of tap water quality and water stress.

The study covered 120 cities that are popular tourist destinations, and was partly aimed at helping travellers make smart and informed decisions based on water quality and costs.

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The survey also revealed that Kuala Lumpur ranked 117 out of 120 with its people paying €0.20 (RM0.98) per cubic metre for tap water, at 88.4% lower than the global median price.

Oslo residents pay the most for tap water, at €5.51 (RM26.92) per cubic metre or 212.24% more than the global median.

It is followed by those in San Francisco, the United States at €5 (RM24.43) (+183.6%) and Stuttgart, Germany at €4.67 (RM22.82) (+164.8%).

Citizens in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia pay the least, at 98.17% less than the median price, followed by Cairo, Egypt (-96.30%) and Karachi, Pakistan (-95.71%).

Special attention was also paid to tap water quality and scarcity in every region, to help inform travellers of any restrictions they may face.

Innsbruck, Austria has the highest tap water quality score, followed by Helsinki, Finland and Vienna, Austria.

Lagos, Nigeria has the lowest, followed by Karachi, Pakistan and Dakar, Senegal.

Malaysia ranked rather close to the bottom at 95, scoring only 59.8%.

In conjunction with World Water Day yesterday, Holidu chief executive officer and co-founder Johannes Siebers hoped that more travellers are informed about the local water conditions and consider the eco-friendly option of drinking local tap water instead of buying bottled ones on their next trip.

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran pointed out that the finding of low water quality in the study was a concern and it may not reflect the real situation.

“I believe they are using average data submitted to United Nations agencies for reference and it may not be an accurate reflection of Kuala Lumpur, as the data will be late by two to three years at least, ” he said.

He noted that Malaysia’s Drinking Water Quality Standard under the Health Ministry and the Safe Drinking Water Bill, which is still in the pipeline, will give more power to the ministry to monitor drinking water quality.

Noting that bottled water “will always be very expensive”, Piarapakaran also said it was not specified in the study if the bottled water was mineral, distilled or RO water.

Also, he said the tap water price in Malaysia is tiered as we use a punitive tariff mechanism.

“We cannot do a direct comparison based on their study as it covers various types of tariff mechanisms, ” he added.

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