THE Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Environment and Water Ministry and state governments to improve water management to meet the basic needs of the people in this country.
At the same time, CAP also calls on the public to value water in their lives by practising frugality and not wasting it.
“Valuing Water” is the theme for this year’s World Water Day, which is today. CAP hopes that everyone will work together to restore and protect water resources that have been seriously affected in recent years.
CAP’s field investigations found that threats to water resources have increased, causing deterioration of water quality. Such threats include the destruction of catchment areas due to logging and the pollution of rivers and seas by industrial waste, sewage, agrochemical residue and sediment from agricultural areas, animal manure and livestock waste as well as garbage.
We also found drainage in agricultural areas being used as a dumping ground for pesticide containers by a handful of farmers, causing the water to be polluted and a threat to aquatic life.
Recent incidents such as the depletion of water in the reservoirs of several dams, such as the Muda Dam in Kedah, and river pollution incidents in Selangor and Johor (Sungai Kim Kim in the latter state being the most critical) are evidence of deteriorating water quality which affected the quality of life of the population in those areas.
The water quality in the Timah Tasoh Lake in Perlis and Tasik Chini in Pahang have also been affected by environmental pollution from the surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, seawater surrounding the country has been polluted by various wastes, including waste oil from merchant ships – this
happens often at places such as Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan – causing marine life to be endangered and severely affecting fishermen’s income.
In Kedah, tens of thousands of residents in the state are complaining and are worried that their health will be affected because the supply of tap water is not only reduced but also dirty and silty. Communities sourcing water from the hills – known as “community water” – also complain that the supply is contaminated with mud as a result of uncontrolled logging and extractive activities in the catchment area.
The threat to water resources also affects the agricultural sector, with many agricultural areas, especially padi fields, experiencing declining yields, thus threatening farmers’ incomes.
In general, water-related problems not only affect the health of consumers but also the country’s economy by disrupting the agriculture, fisheries and food supply sectors.
This is why catchy slogans to save our forests, our rivers and our sea should not remain mere slogans. We should all play our part in protecting our water resources and ensure that water is safe to use.
Water-related laws need to be reviewed in line with the current situation. The party that commits an offence affecting water resources should be punished more severely. The punishment must be commensurate with the effects the offence committed has on the surrounding community.
CAP recommends that more cooperation between the government and NGOs be established to raise awareness of the global water crisis and the measures to safeguard this critical resource for everyone’s benefit.
MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER
President, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)