EFFECTIVE and efficient management of our water resources is critical to business sustainability and investments. Efforts to improve management of our water resources should be expedited.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) commends the Deputy Prime Minister on his astute observation that despite having 907 billion cubic metres of rainfall a year, Malaysia is still faced with water shortages in some states for certain periods each year.
Currently, five states namely Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Malacca are expected to face water supply problems. We support his call for an improved focus on addressing the issue.
Water rationing and unscheduled interruptions in the last few years adversely affected manufacturing production each time, resulting in losses of millions of ringgit due to reduction in production and foregone orders. Investor confidence was also affected.
Industries operate in anxiety over a repeat of the 2014 water crisis in Negri Sembilan and Selangor which lasted from February to August. The current hot spell is of great concern.
It was reported in August 2016 that the World Resources Institute (WRI), which developed the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, had projected a 1.4-fold increase in water stress levels for some areas in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Johor by 2020.
Today, the Atlas’ average score for Malaysia’s baseline water stress is 2.1 i.e. at medium to high stress. Water stress for the industrial sector is 2.2. The water stress score measures exposure of water users to 12 water risk indicators, covering quantity, quality and regulatory and reputational risks such as floods, drought severity, upstream storage, groundwater stress, upstream protected land, return flow rain etc.
Rainfall has been declining and the decline is forecast to continue going forward. We need to address water risks aggressively. A longstanding issue has been non-revenue water (NRW) losses through leakages, burst pipes and theft. NRW loss in Malaysia averages at 40%!
Expeditious action is needed. Likewise, other supply-related factors such as arresting pollution of rivers, preventing further deforestation of catchment areas and improving maintenance of water plants require immediate and stern action.
Besides addressing the supply side of water, the Government must also consider demand and usage. Water tariffs vary from state to state and are among the lowest in the Asean region.
Domestic tariff, in particular, should reflect the true cost of water to reduce wastage and encourage conservation. Tariff should also be sufficient to raise money for the necessary capital expenditure such as addressing NRW losses.
In this respect, the Government should consider streamlining and federalising the management of water like it does with electricity.
The Government must also consider incentives to support industry’s investment in cleaner technologies, water treatment facilities, water saving devices, rainwater harvesting, and extraction of underground resources.
We hope the DPM will lead the initiative to transform the management of water in Malaysia. We need to give urgent attention to the matter to ensure our aspiration to be a developed nation is not hampered.
TAN SRI DR LIM WEE CHAI
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers
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