Water resource

Kenyir Lake Free Of Pollution – Expert

Posted on December 8, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

(Bernama) — Kenyir Lake here is free of pollution and safe for recreational activities, according to Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s (UMT) Institute of Tropical Aquaculture director Prof Dr Faizah Shaharom.

“Analyses of water samples showed cases of fish dying in the lake was because the water temperature had reached up to 31 degrees Celcius, which was something not unusual for lakes less than 100 metres deep.

“As for e-coli bacteria, it is not at a hazardous level at the lake unlike what the media has reported,” she said when met by reporters after attending an angling competition participated by 80 anglers from China at the man-made lake Wednesday.

Terengganu state assembly speaker Datuk Tengku Putera Tengku Awang had flagged off the participants.

Media reports had blamed the numerous boathouses operating on the lake for high e-coli bacteria contamination.

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Penang risks water crisis, too

Posted on December 6, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Star-

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is also in for a water crisis if it does not find an additional source within five years, the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) has cautioned.

The department’s Water Resources and Hydrology division director Hanapi Mohamad Noor said demand for raw water in Penang and Kedah was expected to exceed Sungai Muda’s capacity by 2015.

“Penang draws 80% of its raw water for domestic and industrial use from Sungai Muda and 90% from the same river for the irrigation of 10,000ha of paddy fields in Seberang Prai.

“It is very risky if the state continues to just depend on one source, especially with the demand for water in Kedah also increasing,” he said, adding that Kedah held the advantage as it controlled the upper catchment.

Speaking to reporters after closing the year-long Nega-Litres (negative litres) pilot project featuring the harvesting of rainwater for common area usage at the N-Park Condominium in Batu Uban yesterday, Hanapi said demand for water in Penang this year was at 344 million cubic metres for domestic and industrial use, and 358 million cubic metres for irrigation of paddy fields.

While demand for irrigation was expected to remain the same, he said demand for domestic and industrial use was projected to increase by over 9% in 2015 to 375 million cubic metres and by over 18% in 2020 to 406 million cubic metres.

On water treatment plants, Hanapi said Penang’s six dams and reservoirs in Air Itam, Mengkuang, Teluk Bahang, Bukit Panchor, Cherok Tok Kun and Berapit had sufficient capacity but stressed that the state would face a deficit if it depended on just the rain.

“The consumption of water in Penang is high at 288 litres per capita per day, and the state has the lowest water tariff in the country.

“In comparison, look at Singa-pore where the per capita per day is only 150 litres,” he said.

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Rainwater harvesting will help avert water crisis

Posted on November 24, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

Malaysiakini.com-Foon Weng Lian

Malaysia is blessed with the abundant rainfall feeding our rivers and water catchments.

Peninsular Malaysia alone, receives an average of 2400mm rainfall annually while Sabah and Sarawak receives 2360mm and 3830mm of annual rainfall respectively.

Unfortunately unsustainable land use and development, increasing and unsustainable water consumption and increasing levels of pollution in our country, have made access to clean and safe water supply a tremendous challenge to overcome.

Rapid development, urbanisation, industrialisation and agricultural development aggravates the situation.

Access to clean and safe water supply could be due to several reasons and among them are:

1. lack of rain, erratic /unpredictable weather patterns

2. lack of catchments due to poor management of land development

3. increased pollution

4. unsustainable use – for example using treated water for non-potable purposes

Malaysians are a wasteful lot in many ways. A survey by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) in 2006 indicates that although almost 90 percent recognise the importance of recycling, only 5 percent actually recycle.

About 95 percent are not aware of the energy efficiency label. Another survey by Fomca on water consumption indicates that while almost 80 percent of those surveyed are well aware of the water problems in Malaysia, the majority of the respondents are not likely to conserve water within the next three years.

One way of realising about 26 percent of our water consumption for potable use is by using alternative supply of water for toilets – namely for flushing. A study of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that 26 percent of household water is used for toilet flushing.

Studies in Malaysia and many other countries have shown that harvesting rainwater or using grey water meets this objective, thus releasing precious treated water for potable use.

A lot of research has been done on rainwater harvesting and many guidelines have been developed such as the Urban Stormwater Management Manual for Malaysia (2001) and also the Guidelines for Installing a Rainwater Collection and Utilisation System (1999).

Normally, rainwater is collected directly through roofs and also other purpose built catchments.

Archeological evidence shown that capturing of rainwater dates back as far as 6000 years ago.

But technologies in water treatment and supply systems has resulted in this age old but sustainable way of using water ignored or forgotten.

Based on research and studies done, rainwater harvesting can effectively reduce the water bill by 20-30 percent in some cases up to 60 percent.

Imagine the amount of money and water which can be saved if the whole country implements this.

Instead of using rainwater, we are using treated water to wash cars, flush toilets, water plants and also for irrigation. This is such a waste when some countries such as in Africa, people are struggling to get a mouthful of clean water.

Decades of unsustainable development has lead to what experts term as a humanitarian crisis due to global warming and climate change.

Erratic weather results in unpredictable rainfall pattern and Malaysia has experienced unexpected prolonged droughts recently in Sarawak and Sabah.

This has caused water stress in these states.

Indeed a water crisis is predicted in Selangor in a few years and it could be forced to buy raw water from neighboring states.

This could be averted if more potable water was freed from non-potable use.

But in Malaysia, there are several factors posing obstacles for implementation and development of rainwater harvesting system. The first factor is with the copious amount of rainfall, people think that Malaysia has rich water resources.

Second, the frequent flooding gives impression that it is unnecessary to harvest rainfall.

Third, a single approach in managing water supply i.e. Water Demand Management instead of Integrated Water Demand Management.

Fourth, low water tariffs make it uneconomical to install rainwater mechanisms.

Fifth, lack of incentives to include rainwater harvesting in building design. Last but not least, lack of mandatory regulation to enforce rainwater harvesting system for both commercial and domestic buildings.

With these obstacles removed, rainwater harvesting would save consumers and the water supply service providers a lot of money and resources.

But rainwater harvesting system is not the answer to our water woes. Preventing pollution of water sources and catchments are of utmost importance to protect our water supply for current and future generations.


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Selangor’s bad water debt can impact ETP, say economists

Posted on November 19, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-themalaysianinsider.com- KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The Najib administration’s ambitious Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) may be off to a shaky start as the spectre of defaulting Selangor water bonds threatens to cast its pall over the broader bond market.

Selangor water concessionaires, which are already in technical default owing to the shortfall of money in the reserve account, are inching closer to debt service default as several water bonds approach maturity.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the reserve account, meant to hold at least six months’ worth of bond repayment money, is currently short by some RM50 million. This shortfall may double in six months if the current water consolidation impasse remains unresolved.

RAM Ratings chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said a default will have “very wide” market implications on the bond market, expected to finance at least 70 per cent of the ETP — particularly long-term, capital-intensive projects — through long-term issuances.

“In the event of a default… it will trigger a cross-default among other borrowings,” he said.

“It’s not good, given that the bond market now has become the major form of financing.”

Yeah said such an event will also threaten the future of water industry privatisation, which has long been on the books for Minister of Finance Inc’s wholly-owned Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB).

“It affects not just the confidence in the bond market but the future of water concessionaires’ privatisation of the water industry,” he said.

PAAB had said in July that it intended to complete the RM3 billion takeover of water assets in Perlis, Perak, Kelantan and Pahang by year-end. The company had also hoped to take over Selangor’s RM10-12 billion water assets by the same time.

Lower confidence in the bond market in general, and water bonds specifically, will throw a spanner into PAAB’s plans to assume control of water assets in several states, spearheaded by a RM20 billion sukuk programme by CIMB Bank.

An analyst at a local investment bank agreed, and said defaulting bonds will “give some negative perspective” to investors looking to pick up long-term issuances, even if they are government-backed.

“End of December, if nothing solid comes from these parties, there’s going to be another downgrade,” he said.

“In future, it’ll be hard to gain investor confidence in the bond market. Financing the ETP through bonds might not be as cost effective in the event of a default as banks were likely to charge higher interest rates due to increased uncertainty over debt repayment,” the analyst said.

He added that refinancing and rescheduling of the bonds could buy some time for the water players but cautioned that this was only a stop-gap measure until the political deadlock in Selangor is broken.

OSK Research head of research Chris Eng, however, did not believe the potential water bonds default would adversely affect the ETP.

“That is a long tenuous connection to make… I don’t think it will directly impact the ETP,” he said.

He did not think there would be a major sell down of other bonds due to defaulting Selangor water bonds, pointing out that the market had been aware of debt payment concerns “for some time now”.

Eng added that the first round of issuances raised for ETP projects like the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) will most likely be government-backed ones which will serve to assuage doubts about the local bond market.

“By the time the next round (of bonds) comes around, there will be less concerns,” he said.

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Penang’s Profit From Water Supply Down Due To Subsidy For Consumers – Guan Eng

Posted on November 10, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 10 (Bernama) — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Wednesday the 53 per cent drop in the profit of the Penang Water Supply Corporation in 2009 was due to the subsidy of RM41 million handed out to water consumers in the state.

He said the corporation recorded a profit of RM15 million in 2009 but it was 53 per cent lower than the profit of RM31 million achieved in 2008.

“The subsidy is aimed at retaining the water rate at the lowest level in Malaysia,” he said when winding up debate on the Supply Bill 2011 in the State Assembly.

Lim also said that the economic downturn experienced worldwide last year also contributed to a drop in profit for the corporation, particularly in terms of consumption in the business category.

“Other factors were a reduction in operating income, sluggish development process and a rise in operating cost as a result of salary adjustment and increase in Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) tariffs,” he said.

Lim said the state government anticipated that the performance of the corporation would improve this year with a targeted 50 per cent rise in profit.

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Penang: Water surcharge takes effect

Posted on November 1, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Sun- A new surcharge for water consumption in Penang took effect today, even as as Gerakan warned of “long-term serious implications” of such a move.

Penang Gerakan vice-chairman Wong Mun Hoe claimed the hike was a “well-thought out plan” by the state government to camouflage its poor management of the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBA).

Wong pointed out that the PBA’s profit in 2007, the last year the state was under Barisan Nasional (BN), was RM43.9 million, but dipped to RM31.2 million in 2008 under Pakatan Rakyat, and slid even further to RM14.8 million last year.

“The decline in profits by 66% is alarming,” he said. “The people of Penang are entitled to an explanation. Is this decline due to poor management or are there other X-factors which we do not know about?” he questioned.

With the new rates, household consumers who use more than 35 cubic metres of water each month will be slapped with a water conservation surcharge of 24 sen per cubic metre.

Wong said with the surcharge, households with more than five people may incur an average increase of RM8 a month in their water bill, and that small businesses and trades would incur higher expenditure.

“This additional cost is bad news for their businesses and eat into their profits,” he said.

Wong also expressed concern that the surcharge may bring about hygiene problems as some hawkers may decide to cut cost by washing less often, compromising on health and cleanliness.

“Should such instances occur and there is an outbreak of diseases, we will hold the state government accountable,” he said.

Non-governmental organisation Penang Water Watch has said the PBA surcharge is not enough as the state is likely to face a water shortage in the near future due to the increase in population and industries, and absence of new water sources.

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Rajang River in full flow again after debris drifts to sea

Posted on October 10, 2010. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands, Water resource |

-The Star-

SIBU: The Rajang River has become navigable again after a massive logjam caused by widespread landslides upriver cleared, bringing relief to operators of passenger and cargo vessels.

The long stretch of logs and wooden debris floating from Balleh in the Kapit Division over the past two days has drifted to sea.

Nevertheless, officers from the Natural Resources and Environment Board and the Sarawak Rivers Board are closely monitoring the situation, said state Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

“They are also surveying the damage caused to wharves, jetties and other infrastructure and will help to remove the debris,” he told reporters yesterday after presenting a RM10,000 government grant for the construction of the new RM1.25mil St John’s Anglican Church here.

Wong reiterated that the debris was not from the Bakun Dam area in Belaga but Balleh in Kapit.

“The area, with its huge catchment, has experienced very heavy rainfall in the past few days, causing widespread landslide, erosion and flooding.

“The debris which was swept away could have accumulated there over the past 40 or more years,” he said.

Passenger and cargo boats are able to travel safely and keep to their schedules now.

Over the past two days, it had been nightmarish for boat operators as they had to delay or postpone trips or stop halfway because of the huge quantities of logs and debris floating downriver.

Ling Kok Chung, 65, who runs the Bahagia Express boat service, said no less than 25 express boats were plying the Rajang River, including 16 daily from here to Kapit and back.

In Miri, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan dismissed the notion that the logjam signalled the beginning of an environmental disaster.

“It is not a natural disaster. I will not comment until I get the full report,” he said.

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Unruffled over water surcharge

Posted on September 28, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Star- GEORGE TOWN: No big deal. That was the reaction of several people interviewed to the proposed 24-sen surcharge which the Penang Government will impose for every 1,000 litres of water used by domestic consumers exceeding 35,000 litres a month from Nov 1.

Char koay teow seller Ng Kim Seng, 57, who shares his double-storey wooden house in Weld Quay here with the families of his sister and daughter, said the surcharge was not a concern to him.

He said the water bill of their home, which has nine occupants in total, averaged between RM80 and RM110 for two months.

“I pay the water bill without collecting from the rest as the amount is not a big deal,” said the head the household.

Food seller Teoh Yean Ling, 29, also did not find the surcharge worrying.

She said the water bill for her home in Paya Terubong which she shares with her brother-in-law’s family varied between RM90 and RM130 for two months.

“We divide the bill equally,” she said.

Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd corporate affairs manager K. Jeyabalan said the surcharge was aimed at raising awareness among consumers to use water wisely.

“Penang’s water tariff is already among the cheapest in Malaysia. Even with the surcharge, it is still lower than many states,” he said.

He said some consumers may feel that it was all right to use water according to their wish since they were paying for it.

“We hope to change their mindset. Water may be cheap and abundant but it doesn’t mean we should waste it,” said Jeyabalan.

He said the poor and needy had been taken into consideration when the surcharge was proposed, hence the 35,000-litre threshold.

The water bills for domestic users in Penang are currently issued once every two months.

The monthly rate is 22 sen per 1,000 litres for the first 20,000 litres followed by 42 sen per 1,000 litres for the subsequent 20,000 litres, 52 sen per 1,000 litres for the next 20,000 litres and 90 sen for every 1,000 litres after that until 200,000 litres.

Those who use more than 200,000 litres a month are charged RM1 per 1,000 litres for any consumption above the figure.

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‘Penang’s water surcharge a burden’

Posted on September 24, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-Free MalaysiaToday- GEORGE TOWN: A Gerakan youth leader today criticised the Penang government’s move to impose a surcharge on water tariff as it will burden the lower income group, especially those with large household members.

Kedah youth chief Tan Keng Liang said the surcharge was also against Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework (CPF) unveiled last December.

Under paragraph H of the CPF, he said Pakatan’s pledge states that providing and maintaining good public infrastructure was the government’s responsibility.

The coalition pledged to Malaysians that the implementation should not burden the people and it would guarantee clean water at reasonable rates to every family in Malaysia

However, Tan said the Pakatan government has taken an unlikely lead to impose a surcharge of 24 sen per 1,000 liters on domestic consumers using more than 35,000 litres of water per month.

Lower income group affected most

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration said that surcharge was part of the state government’s effort to cut water wastage and encourage wise usage.

But Tan said the surcharge had clearly failed to take into account that the number of persons in each household varies.
He said the average 35,000-litre consumption was an estimation based on five persons per household.

“What about large families with 10 members and more? The surcharge would be unreasonable on them, especially on those living in the lower income bracket,” he said.

“It should not be a hasty move that unfairly burdens any group of people. Otherwise, it can be assumed it is mere attempt to increase water tariff under the guise of curbing water wastage,” added Tan.

He said that the Penang government move to increase water tariff would not encourage other Pakatan states of Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor to to follow suit.

“Pakatan should honour its CPF pledges to the people,” said Tan.

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Extra charge for Penangites who use excessive water

Posted on September 23, 2010. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Star-

GEORGE TOWN: Penang will impose a surcharge of 24 sen per 1,000 litres on domestic consumers using more than 35,000 litres of water per month.

The Water Conservation Surcharge, from Nov 1, is expected to affect 30% of domestic users, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

“The move will help to reduce our state’s average daily water usage per household from 286 litres a day to 233 litres a day,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

He added that Penang was the first state in the country to impose the surcharge to motivate the people to reduce water usage and wastage.

Lim, also Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chairman, said piped water was supplied at below cost to 80% of its domestic consumers in Penang.

“In 2009, a total of 395,388 domestic consumers enjoyed water subsidies which cost PBAPP some RM41mil,” he said.

He stressed that only those who used excessive water would be affected by the surcharge.

“If you use too much water, you pay, that is only fair,” he said.

Lim added that Penang’s water tariff, which was the lowest in Malaysia and Asean, was last reviewed nine years ago.

He also said the surcharge had to be introduced as the average daily water usage of 286 litres per household was above the national average of 205 litres.

Federation of Malaysia Consumer Asso­ciations vice-president K. Koris described the surcharge as a “very good move’’.

He said Malaysia was the only place in the world where people used treated water to wash their cars and water the plants.

“It’s ridiculous that a family pays more for their handphone bills than they do for water. In India, people suffer because there is a lack of treated water, but here, people are wasting water,’’ he said.

Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Idris said the association had always been in favour of imposing extra charges for those who use water excessively.

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