PORT DICKSON, Malaysia: Underground water resources will be proposed as the new source for national water as its use so far is still low, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Saturday (Mar 25).
This was because underground water reserves totaled three trillion cubic metres, but its usage contributed to only 1.5 per cent to the country's overall consumption, he said.
"Our country has many water resources and receives 907 billion cubic metres of rainfall each year, which is something extraordinary, but we do not have enough water.
"It is impossible that a country with many water resources faces water shortage ... this means that we are weak in managing water. As chairman of the National Water Resources Council, I am affected if there are states, either in the Peninsula or Sabah and Sarawak facing water a shortage ... this is a big challenge," he said.
He was speaking at the launch of national-level celebrations for the World Water Day 2017 with the theme "waste water" at Dataran Teluk Kemang.
Commenting further, Ahmad Zahid said efficient management of water was the responsibility of all parties, both at the federal government and state government levels, in order to avoid water shortages.
"We should take the example of Somalia ... as many as 250 people die each day from drought, and Malaysia can give food and other aid, but it is only temporary.
"We are helping Somalia find underground water even though it is 150 metres below the ground so that it can be used for agricultural land which is parched dry. This is our contribution through technology. If we have the means to help other countries, surely we can prove that we are capable of managing water well," he said.
Ahmad Zahid also praised the Negeri Sembilan water management system, which is chaired by its menteri besar, Mohamad Hasan, who has succeeded in managing water resources in the state well when other states were facing droughts.
He also outlined four main focus for sustainability of the national sewerage services industry.
The four focus areas are the modernisation of sewerage services through the application of new technologies which are environment-friendly and increasing coverage and accessibility in rural areas including major towns outside the Klang Valley.
Also given focus is the rationalisation of mini and uneconomical sewage treatment plants to reduce the pollution effects of affluent to the environment as well as "waste-to-wealth" commercialisation efforts.
NEW WATER MANAGEMENT BILL TO BE TABLED
Meanwhile, a new Bill on water resources will be formulated to coordinate water management in Malaysia, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced at the same event.
He said the aim of the bill was to serve as template for each state which was currently using its own management system.
The Bill is expected to be tabled in the Cabinet by September latest.
"At present, there are some states with non-revenue water up to 40 per cent, which causes wastage.
"Together with this Bill, we will also form a committee to coordinate joint water management system for the country," he told reporters.
Wan Junaidi said the ministry would hold talks with the state governments to
They (the talks) are also aimed at clarifying that the law was not to take over the state water management, but for joint coordination," he said.