Look­ing at ways to tap un­der­ground re­sources, cut wastage

New Straits Times - - News -

PORT DICK­SON: The gov­ern­ment will in­ten­sify ef­forts to bet­ter man­age the wa­ter in­dus­try, which in­cludes bal­anc­ing sup­ply and de­mand, plug­ging wastage and sourc­ing from vast un­der­ground re­sources.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi said it was un­ac­cept­able for a coun­try like Malaysia, which had 907 bil­lion cu­bic me­tres of rain­fall a year, to see some states fac­ing wa­ter short­ages at cer­tain pe­ri­ods of the year.

“This shows that there is some­thing wrong some­where in the sup­ply-and-de­mand equa­tion, and in the mid­dle of it, there is also some­thing wrong in the man­age­ment as­pect,” Zahid said at the launch of the na­tional-level World Wa­ter Day 2017 here yes­ter­day.

Zahid said the gov­ern­ment would look into ways to ex­tract and boost us­age of the coun­try’s vast un­der­ground wa­ter re­sources, which were largely un­tapped.

“There are three tril­lion cu­bic me­tres of un­der­ground wa­ter in the coun­try, of which only 1.5 per cent is utilised.

“If more are ex­tracted, it can help meet the de­mand of do­mes­tic, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial users.

“We need to tap un­der­ground wa­ter as the coun­try is de­pend­ing too much on rivers and dams, which could be detri­men­tal if we ex­pe­ri­ence long droughts.”

Zahid said Malaysia had the ex­per­tise to man­age wa­ter re­sources well, as demon­strated by the Mal­bat (Malaysian bat­tal­ion) peace­keep­ing team in So­ma­lia, which served un­der the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in 1993.

“The Malaysian army en­gi­neers were able to dig 150m into the ground to ex­tract wa­ter, and this ini­tia­tive had helped to min­imise deaths in So­ma­lia, which at the time was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing 250 deaths daily due to famine and drought.

“If we can help a for­eign coun­try ex­tract and man­age their wa­ter re­sources, I am sure Malaysia can do bet­ter to solve our own wa­ter prob­lems ev­ery year.”

He said even though an av­er­age of 95 per cent of Malaysians had ac­cess to clean wa­ter, the gov­ern­ment would strive to en­sure that 99 per cent of the peo­ple would have ac­cess to treated wa­ter by 2020, from the cur­rent 97.2 per cent in ur­ban ar­eas and 93 per cent in ru­ral ar­eas.

Zahid said the states and wa­ter in­dus­try must set aside their dif­fer­ences and “come out of their co­coons” to help the peo­ple.

They have to be pre­pared to up­grade their wa­ter in­fras­truc­ture as the coun­try pro­gresses to join the ranks of ad­vanced na­tions, he said.

PIC BY HAZREEN MO­HAMAD

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi and Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Wan Ju­naidi Tuanku Jaa­far with best the­sis award win­ners at the na­tional-level World Wa­ter Day 2017 event in Port Dick­son yes­ter­day.

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