PETALING JAYA: Unsustainable water and sewerage tariffs, coupled with under-funded utilities, often result in the poor delivery of services and wasteful use of water, say experts gathered at the Malaysia International Water Convention (MIWC) 2021.
The continuously growing demand for treated water against the backdrop where the water industry is still facing multiple challenges, including climate change and pollution of raw water sources, is a difficult one to solve, said the secretary-general of the Environment and Water (KASA), Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang.
In his keynote address at the opening on Monday (Sept 20), Zaini identified climate change as the central theme in the water sector outlook post Covid-19.
“Only 1% of Malaysians are worried about climate change. Covid-19 is very much related to climate change, so why is it not constantly sitting in the minds of Malaysians?" said Zaini, who also brought up five key points affecting the water sector, which include governance, financial models, water efficiency, climate resilience, and public participation.
Stressing that Malaysia’s water resources and security are highly subsidised, he hoped the government will make adjustments to current policies to nudge the people towards greater water efficiency.
“At the moment, you will be penalised for being efficient. For water operators especially, this means less revenue for them, so there is no incentive for them to be efficient," said Zaini, who added that ongoing water tariff issues have been addressed in the government’s plan for the first 100 days to rebuild and revitalise the country.
Alam Sekitar Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Asma) general manager Ardi Bakhtiar has called for the need to take “proactive solutions” to tackle the constant disruptions to the operations of water treatment plants here.
Ardi urged authorities to take more proactive measures, such as implementing water quality programmes for discharge and waste water flows to rivers and water bodies.
He also spoke of how recent cases of littering on beaches are examples of how this behaviour contributes to water pollution.
“Water is everybody’s business, as we all can’t live without it. No matter how big or small, it is important for everyone to contribute and do our part to maintain and preserve water quality,” he added.
The biennial convention was launched virtually yesterday Environment and Water Minister, Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, after the welcome address by the Malaysian Water Association (MWA) president, Dr Mohmad Asari Daud.
The five-day digital event gathers local and international water professionals for a multitude of programmes, including a three parallel-track conference, virtual technical tours, technical workshops, an exhibition on water innovations and technologies, with business networking and connection opportunities.