KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur has launched a RM2.4 billion (S$788 million) project to harvest rainwater in giant underground shafts.
The raw water will be channelled to consumers after passing through treatment plants, thus reducing the city's dependence on raw water from rivers in Selangor and Pahang and reservoirs in KL, officials said.
Under the plan approved by the federal government, private company ASI Air Simpanan will drill 1,200 giant vertical shafts to collect rainwater throughout the city. Each shaft will measure 4.5m to 6m in diameter and be 40m to 60m deep.
"This move will allow Kuala Lumpur to take another step towards water self-sufficiency, as well as reducing floods," ASI managing director Wan Abdul Halim Abdul Majid told reporters at the groundbreaking ceremony for the pilot project on Tuesday.
Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who officiated at the ceremony, pointed out: "Kuala Lumpur does not have its own Federal Territories water department, and I mentioned to the Cabinet that we need to manage our own water and look for our own source of water."
Unlike a past proposal to tap groundwater, Datuk Halim said the shafts will collect the runoff from rainwater that has been filtered.
He said Kuala Lumpur consumes 33 million cu m of water a month, with a third of this coming from reservoirs around the sprawling city, and the rest piped in from rivers in other states. The capital city receives an average rainfall of 48 million cu m a month.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's most densely populated city, expects a population of 2.2 million in 2020.
Mr Halim said that while the rainwater collected will be polluted, "there are plans to build localised water treatment plants... that will use membrane filtration technology to treat the raw water until it is fit for consumption".
Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan said the project came about following grouses by KL residents about water shortage in their districts. He said this occurred after plans to build a water treatment plant in Selangor were halted due to bickering between the federal government and the Selangor state government, which is controlled by the opposition Pakatan Harapan alliance.
Next year, the federal government will table a Bill on National Water Resources, which would empower Kuala Lumpur to take charge of its water supply matters.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK