Not much buy-in yet for rainwater harvesting systems

Repurposing your resources: A resident of Taman Perwira in Gombak collecting water from his rain catchment tank set up along his back alley in this file photo. As part of the community project called Garden 8, the water is used to water the plants in the back alley gardens. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The level of awareness and understanding of the merits of rainwater harvesting systems varies among Malaysians.

Penang resident Louis Tay, for one, said he does not see the need for the system or wish to spend money to install it at his house.

“I sometimes use water from washing clothes to flush the toilet and I usually send my car for a wash,” he said.

Although he is aware that the installation need not incur a high cost, he said the storage requires space and a wash basin, which may be a mosquito-breeding ground.

Tay said having a rainwater-harvesting system at home is not in his plans.

“When we encountered water cuts, the supply did not take too long to return, anyway,” he added.

As for Leow Sun Huat, whose house here has two koi fish ponds with a filtration system that requires cleaning, he built a rainwater-harvesting pond to save water.

“For the cleaning, the water in the ponds will be partially drained and refilled, resulting in much water consumption, so the rainwater-harvesting pond is useful,” he said.

This pond, measuring 2.7m wide, 5.8m long and 1.7m deep, can hold 26,632 litres of water and has a rudimentary filtration system.

An electrical pump activates four distribution pipes, but Leow said the device doesn’t consume much power as it is switched on only when in use.

He said it cost him RM43,000 to set up the pond.

“My home’s average water bill is RM96 monthly (70 cubic metres); on average, we use around 60 cubic metres of water monthly from the rain-harvesting pond,” said the environmentally-conscious owner whose house is also equipped with solar panels.

Over in Klang, Michael Leong said his new place features a rainwater collection and utilisation system by the developer, but was built mainly for vehicle washing and gardening.

He subsequently connected the hose to the toilet.

“Rainwater collection doesn’t save much on water bills, but I want to do my part for the planet. I teach my children to save water too,” he said.

Leong lamented that Malaysians are not too concerned about conserving water simply because it is a cheap resource.

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