TURNING WASTE INTO WEALTH
PEOPLE generally do not bother where their refuse goes. And for sewage, that is even more so, and can pose a major problem if it is not disposed of safely.
According to Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang Malaysians produce 5.1 million cubic metres of sewage everyday – easily filling up 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
With rapid development and the increase in population in urban areas, there is a need for a better system of treating and neutralising the sewage.
Under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (11MP), the government aims to provide 80% of the population (especially in main cities) with connected sewerage services by 2020.
About 3,000 small and inefficient sewage treatment plants will be rationalised through the construction of regional and centralised plants with larger capacities and more efficient technologies.
In areas where such plants are not feasible, existing treatment plants will be upgraded with new mechanical and electrical components to ensure effluent levels are compliant with regulators’ standards.
For that, Abu Zahar said, IWK works closely with the government to improve network and treatment plant capacity through infrastructure investment and use of efficient technology.
“One such technology – adapted from China – was successfully implemented for the Pantai 2 regional sewage treatment plant, which runs under a 12-hectare recreational park.
“Considered the largest within the Asia-Pacific region, that facility challenges all perceptions that sewage treatment plants are unhygienic and smelly.
“These modern treatment plants provide Malaysians a more effective and user-friendly way of removing sewage, as well as a recreational park for the public,” Abu Zahar said in an exclusive interview recently.
Currently there are two like the one in Pantai 2, IWK’s bill to individual homeowners is small, at RM8 per month, with the remaining RM12 to RM18 per person still government-subsidised.
The current rate is the lowest with more widespread modern sewerage facilities set up all over the country.
For that, the idea is to execute a transformation from “waste to wealth” – as coined by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – and adapt an innovative culture that propels the waste industry into becoming self-funding.
IWK converts by-products of wastewater treatment processes into value-added, sustainable and reusable products, such as bioeffluent, biosolids and biogas that have the potential to be commercialised.
Established in 1994, IWK was awarded the concession for providing nationwide sewerage services. Previously, local authorities were providing such services.
IWK today operates in all states except in Kelantan, Sabah, Sarawak and areas under the purview of the Johor Baru and Pasir Gudang city councils.
Some of its achievements include reaching the shortlist in the ACCA Malaysia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2014; the IWA Project Innovation Awards 2013 in Sanitation and Wastewater Software and the Good Corporate Governance Award from the Malaysia Canada Business Council this year.
IWK has also gained the attention of international organisations such as the USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank.
It has been a model utility for other countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh and Vietnam, to name a few.
For details, log on to www.iwk. com.my or www.facebook.com/ IndahWaterKonsortium
A view of the Pantai 2 regional sewage treatment plant.
The RaiseTheFlagMY 2017 event at the IWK Kuala Lumpur office.
The Pantai 2 regional sewage treatment plant was officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on May 25.
Malaysia’s first fully underground sewage treatment plant.