DROUGHTS in Malaysia have become more common nowadays. Experts recently warned of another El Nino towards the end of 2017. Water shortage will again rear its ugly head. The 1998 water crisis serves as a grim reminder of the chaos created. Domestic water supplies were seriously interrupted. Rationing was unavoidable. Many industries suffered considerable losses. Droughts had also disrupted irrigation. Crop failures caused hardships to many farming families. Palm oil production will again suffer during times of water deficiencies.
It is ironic that Malaysia, blessed with 2,500mm rainfall annually, should experience water shortages. Population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation, and irrigated agriculture have all created the growing thirst for water. More water use has also led to rising incidence of water pollution. But critics claim past approaches towards management have been largely sectoral, and very much supply-driven. Future demands for water were mostly projected through unrealistic scenarios. The typical responses have been merely adding supply through new or upgraded infrastructure.