Protect Malaysia's water sources: Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the opening ceremony of a sewage treatment plant in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. He asked for commitment from all parties to treat waste water properly, as even the best treatment plant cannot cope when a river is
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the opening ceremony of a sewage treatment plant in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. He asked for commitment from all parties to treat waste water properly, as even the best treatment plant cannot cope when a river is grossly polluted.PHOTO: PM NAJIB RAZAK'S BLOG

Country has 150 rivers but climate change, river pollution creating a shortage, he says

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia is facing a challenge securing enough raw water despite an abundance of rivers due to unpredictable rainfall patterns and pollutants entering the country's rivers, Prime Minister Najib Razak has said. Malaysia's raw water supply comes mainly from its 150 rivers, but these waterways are exposed to pollution from untreated or insufficiently treated industrial, agricultural and household effluents, he said on Thursday at a ceremony marking the completion of a sewage treatment plant in Kuala Lumpur.

"Malaysia is blessed with plenty of water supply sources but we face a shortage due to global climate change and river pollution," he said, according to the New Straits Times newspaper yesterday.

"Commitment from all quarters is necessary to completely treat all kinds of effluent and industrial waste to protect our sources of clean water supply.

"The three main causes of river pollution identified include agricultural and manufacturing industrial waste, domestic waste and farming activities," he said.

Datuk Seri Najib said while water treatment plants can remove the bulk of river water contaminants, this is a costly process, and there are also many occasions when even the best treatment plant cannot cope when the river is grossly polluted.

"As such, the commitment from all parties to treat waste water properly is very important to ensure that our water sources are protected," he said.

Malaysia produced 16.2 million litres of water a day in 2015, according to the latest data published on the website of the National Water Services Commission. Selangor, Malaysia's most populous and most industrialised state, consumed a quarter of that volume.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Maximus Ongkili lamented last year that Malaysians use more water than people in other countries, including the United States and Australia.

Average daily water consumption by a Malaysian in January last year stood at 300 litres. The United Nations had reported in 2010 that total water requirement for an individual was 165 litres per day, the minister said.

In contrast, Singapore's per capita domestic water consumption was reduced to the current 148 litres, from 165 litres per day in 2003, according to the Republic's national water agency PUB.

Mr Najib said on Thursday that the government plans to build 77 new sewage treatment plants by 2040 at a total cost of RM52 billion (S$16.8 billion), adding to the 46 existing plants.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Protect Malaysia's water sources: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe