TURN­ING WASTE INTO WEALTH

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Malaysia Day - The RaiseTheFlagMY event at the IWK Man­jung of­fice.

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.

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