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Water Rationing in Malaysia

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Published: Thu, 23 Nov 2017

Definition of Water Rationing

Water is the most essential single element required in order for people to accomplish the universal human right to a standard of living adequate for the health as well as well-being of himself and his family. Lacking of access to fresh water, health and well-being are severely jeopardized. This is because people cannot live without basic water supplies.

Water is the important need so that people continue to survive. Without water, people could only survive for a few months before they had some serious health problems or even death. Fresh water protection is a huge responsibility that involves in the individual, industrial and even the government. Every single person has a vital role in trying to protect the continuous supply of fresh water. One of the main concerns regarding water is that of there will be enough water for the request within the next 25 to 50 years later.

Current rising problem today is the lack of drinking water. Once every twenty years, the consumption of water is double. The supply of fresh water is not renewing at the same speed anymore. The lack of drinking water has caused a much larger problem. The problem is that the water is polluted. Currently, about half of the hospital beds in the world are filled with patients with water borne diseases.

In the Malay Mail newspaper, it shows that “The water supply from the dams is not enough to supply water to more than 7 million users in the Klang Valley.” In the Klang Valley together with Wilayah Persekutuan and Selangor states, the current water rationing program initiated in last February 2014. It consists of alternating two days with water then two days with dry taps in the areas allocated by the government.

Water rationing is not always regarding water shortage. Sometimes it is related to the demand is greater than the supply. Supply may actually be sufficient in certain place but in some places with irresponsible user, the water is water at an uncontrolled level which led to nowhere to find fresh water. Thus, the government will create a solution for this problem such as water rationing to meet the requirements of every citizen.

During Malaysia water crisis in 1998, 4.2 million people had to survive on 2553 million litres of water per day. This resulted in a shortage of 105 million litres per day. For year 2014, 7.1 million people need about 4900 million litres per day but with only 4367 million litres per day is available. Figure 1 shows the comparison of water needed between year 1998 and year 2014.

http://www.thestar.com.my/%7E/media/Images/TSOL/Photos-Gallery/Nation/2014/04/10/water%20chart%20level%20new.ashx

In year 1998, there are 1.8 million people in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur that were affected by a six month long water rationing exercise which is from March to September as the result of El Nino phenomenon. The dry weather and lesser rainfall weather during year 1998 led to almost critical water levels in four dams which is Batu, Klang Gates, Langat and Semenyih. El Nino is actually a band of warm ocean water temperature that occasionally develops off the Pacific coast of South America.

The Causes and Effects of Water Rationing

Water shortage that resulted in water rationing does not happen in a single day. There are many causes of water shortages. Some of the examples are population growth, overuse of water by industries, pollution, global warming, drastic weather changes and others more.

One of the causes that result in water rationing is the growing water shortage in the growing demand resulting from the population increase. The increase of demand of fresh water is directly proportional with the increasing population. The increase in demand arises out of a few factors which include the direct consumption demands of the increasing population and the demand from development and food production to give food to the increasing population. But then, the fresh water is not increasing but decreasing rapidly due to the over usage. Thus this will lead to the demand is more than the supply in which related to water shortage.

Climate change has affected the whole water cycle, decreasing water resources and resulted in water shortage. Global warming too has speeded up the hydrological cycle and amplified evaporation will make drought conditions more rampant. One of the example of climate change is droughts occur more occasionally in some certain area while will be hit by flash floods which could destroy dams and reservoirs.

Land use changes have a variation of influences on water resources. Whilst decrease of vegetation cover may result in better runoff, it decreases groundwater infiltration as well as the storage capability of dams and lakes through siltation. The significant draining of wetlands or extensive deforestation may change the microclimate of a region. This is a consequence of people cutting trees for numerous reasons including illegally felling of trees for sale.

Some of the cause of water shortage is mismanagement by government officials. The government official lacked of law enforcement to stop water from being wasted. Water shortage is the whole nation as well as global problem which are happening at an alarming rate. It can be effective to increase consciousness among all people regarding age towards the seriousness of water shortage and the benefit of saving water. This is very important as it could make people realize the importance of water and not waste them uncontrollably. The government should implement laws to solve the problem like having hefty fines to those who waste water and not just a tab on the wrist.

Due to rapid industrialization and a lack of wastewater treatment system, a large number of surface and ground water is contaminated and thus not safely available for human use. Water contamination can result from a numerous causes which include agricultural return flows, industry, and domestic uses. Both surface and groundwater are regularly affected. Destruction of the riverine environment decreases the ordinary ability of a river to deal with with pollution.

The largest water using sector is agriculture. This is a common reality worldwide. As population increases, ever greater pressure is placed on agriculture to produce food. This in turn results in increased water demand. Water scarcity and food security are therefore directly related.

In addition, using additional water than is returned in rain, people are polluting the water that they have. For example, most of the pesticides as well as fertilizers used in agriculture, sewer overflows and oil and grease from road will run off into water system. The other source of excess nutrients such as lawn fertilizers, pet and farm animal waste, decaying plant material. Industrial plants waste water treatment plants can also contribute the level of toxic substance enter the river and lake which will resulted in polluted water.

Politicians and decision-makers are the people who have highest influence on the distribution of improve water shortage budgets and the adoption of policy. Unfortunately, a lot of politicians do not agree with the parameters of practical water resource management and this result in judgements are being made on the basis of short-term political feasibility.

The effects of water shortages are the most noticeable to the everyday man. More than half of the world’s hospital beds are filled by people suffering from water linked diseases as well as nearly 20% of deaths to children under age five being credited to water related issues. Water related diseases include a wide variety of well-known and feared ailments such as Malaria, Lice, dengue fever, Hepatitis and other more.

Water shortage will pose major nation or global challenges as it would reduce agricultural production as well as lead to an increase in food and water prices. This will greatly affect consumers’ disposable income, businesses’ profits and economic growth. Water can also become a source of conflicts among communities, states and countries.

Developing countries such as Malaysia are more harshly affected by water shortages problem. Lack of clean and fresh water will caused health concerns and human loss as a result of poor hygiene. A lot of people who cannot get supply of clean water on a regular basis will end up using unclean water from streams which are usually contaminated. Those who are using contaminated water will develop health complications like cholera, diarrhea and other more in the long run.

Besides that, hunger is another negative effect related with water shortage. Water shortage will link to agriculture. With lesser water, the crops produce will be lesser thus in the long run will leads to hunger and thirst.

Water Rationing Survival

Water rationing means the water company will limit the fresh water supply to domestic and industrial area. During water rationing period it is needed for people to save water and prevent from wasting it.

There are a few survival skills during water rationing such as greywater recycling. Greywater recycling is the waste water generated from washing machine and dishwasher is used for other stuff. The greywater can be used for cleaning the house compound, flushing toilet and many more. So, never pour water down the drain when there may be additional use for it for example watering a plant or garden, or for cleaning. This can be done by while taking showers, place a bucket in the showers to catch excess water and use the water for cleaning or flushing the toilet. This can be apply when washing dishes or vegetable in the sink.

Next, it would be turning off the main water valves when it is not in used. As during water shortage, water is very limited. Thus when the local officials advice on the water rationing, it is better to off the main water valves to prevent those already in the tank is contaminated.

Apart from that, during water rationing, it is best to repair broken or leaking pipes. This is to prevent extra water being wasted unnecessarily. This can be done by repairing dripping faucets by replacing their washers. Another method is to check for toilet tank leaks by adding food colouring into the tank. If the toilet is leaking, colour will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes to an hour. It is good to check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most of the replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available as well as easily installed.

During shower, it is better to take shorter shower instead of long bath. Replace the showerhead with ultra-low flow version. Some of the ultra-low flow version allows users to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs. In the shower, turn on the water to get wet and turn off after the body is wet then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat it when washing the hair too. Avoid flushing the toilet unreasonably. Throw of tissues, insects and other related waste in the dustbin rather than the toilet bowl.

For the lawn, do not overwater the lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every five to seven days in a week. Heavy rain will eliminate the need of watering for up to two weeks. If possible, do buy a rain gauge and use it to measure the rain that land on the lawn. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and are the lowest. This reduces water losses from evaporation.

Another method is having bigger water storage. With less water used on days when the water is rationed, it is best to realigning the use of fresh water. Having extra storage in the house will be good if water rationing period is extended for a day or two. If the water storage is on the roof, it had to be big enough to store water for drinking, bathing and cooking.

Recommendation to the Causes Identified

There are a lot of steps that can be taken to solve water shortage issues. One of them is rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater harvesting system will cut down the usage of treated water used for car washing, toilet as well as general cleaning. This will save up on the water bills. One huge problem is finding sufficient space for the rain water harvesting system to be installed. It is not a small piece of device that one can just plug and play.

Another recommendation for water shortage is desalinization. Desalinization is system which can filter the salty water through membranes and removing the salt through electro dialysis and reverse osmosis process. Desalinization process has worked for about 130 nations in North Africa and Middle East. With the use of this system, these nations are currently producing around six billion of fresh water daily. Since Malaysia is surrounded by sea, it is possible to introduce desalinization process.

Besides this, another recommendation is to protect water catchment areas. Water consumption is normally divided into domestic, industry and agriculture. Most of the water consumption is for domestic sector as most of the industries and agriculture use raw water instead. Government should introduce more water catchment areas for example forest and lakes. These are the areas that must take into consideration of future need of raw water. These areas should be register as national park so no deforestation and no development could be done at that area. Thus, this would ensure the future supply of raw water.

Government should improve the water supply infrastructures as a method to prevent water shortage. The government could build more service reservoirs to prevent water shortage. A service reservoir could store up to a minimum one or two days of storage of water.

On top of that, government should use meters as a method to monitor how much water does people are sending down the drains, flushing in toilets and pouring over their gardens. Meter is the fairest way to charge for water and the people need to be held responsible for what they use. For example, a family of four uses as much water in a day as a sprinkler uses in an hour. If people are using sprinkle and swimming pool, they need to pay extra.

Apart from that, the government should persuade and educate people to use less water. Small actions like turning off the taps during washing up could save a lot of water. For example, by turning off the tap while brushing teeth would save a lot of water. If a normal tap runs at five litres a minute, people do brush their teeth for two minutes for twice a day. It would be 20 litres that goes down the sink.

Another method is by charging the water based on the water quality. A raw water quality based raw water tariff should also be in place to ensure the governments are receiving income by safe guarding the water catchment areas to secure raw water resources. Safe guarding water catchment areas will preserve the raw water quality and reduce cost of treating water which will be translated to affordable water tariff.

Conclusion

In conclusion, stopping water crisis from reaching tragic level needs more concern of people as well as governments. It can be an effective ways to increase consciousness among all people from all walks of life regarding the shortage of water and what people have to face in the future if the uncontrolled water usage is not stopped. Governments should implement laws to penalize uncontrollable use of water. People should be wiser and miser in using water. Everyone must think of better ways to discipline oneself so that water is not wasted. It is better to come up with precaution than solution. Finally, people should safeguard the environment and filter unwanted pollutants before it is release to the environment

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