Kota Marudu Member of Parliament

Sabah may have to ration water soon

Kuala Lumpur: Several states may have to start rationing water if there is no rainfall in the next two to three weeks.

Energy, Green Technology, and Water Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said the states may have insufficient water for treatment if the dry spell continues.

"So far no states have reached the critical level, but if there is no change in the next two to three weeks, there may be insufficient water for treatment," Maximus told reporters.

The states concerned are Johor, Negri Sembilan, Perlis, and Sabah.

Maximus pointed out that Johor had to ration water just six months ago and lifted the restriction when there is enough water after three months.

"We are hoping for rain in the next three weeks so we can relieve some of the pressure," he said.

Maximus added that the Ministry is closely monitoring water levels in the states.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar also revealed that major dams in five states have fallen below the 50pc mark.

The El Nino phenomenon caused protracted heat waves that forced schools in several northern states to close or to limit student activities indoors.

A particularly long dry spell in Selangor in April 2014 forced the state government to ration water, affecting millions of households in the state.

Earlier Maximus said efforts to reduce Non-Revenue Water (NRW) in the country have largely been unsuccessful as large amounts of water remain wasted.

Five states are recording NRW levels in the 40pc to 50pc range while only three states are below 30pc.

"I must confess that we have not made good progress in this area as we are still struggling to lower the (national) 35pc level.

"The current scenario seems to suggest that existing work methods and approaches of tackling water loss are not effective," he said.

Maximus said the government recognises the urgent need to address the issue in order to achieve the target of having NRW reduced to 25pc by 2020.

He said a master plan to address the issue has already been formulated and will be presented to the Cabinet by the end of the month.

The plan will focus on setting up a baseline for NRW data, enhancing current NRW reduction programmes, and rewarding operators which reduced NRW.

Maximus said there is currently no fixed limit on NRW reduction programme investments but the amount largely depends on operators, which in most cases are state-owned companies.

He then advised operators to focus on connector pipes as immediate remedial measures and move on to pipe replacement works from there.

Maximus also noted that there is excess treatment capacity in the water industry currently which may not be matched by raw water availability in the future.

He said operators must also reduce demands via leakage control, reducing per capita consumption, effective stakeholder engagements, and active media campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Selangor state government has until October to complete negotiations with Splash Sdn Bhd to complete the water restructuring exercise.

Splash is the only water concessionaire in Selangor that had not accepted the State's offer to take over operations and have asked for RM2.8 billion to surrender its assets.

The other companies, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Holdings Berhad (PNHB), and Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd (Abass) have been absorbed into state-owned Air Selangor Sdn Bhd.


Source - Daily Express