IMPORTANT yet invisible, these unsung heroes work through the pandemic to ensure safe water is delivered to millions of Malaysians and local businesses.
They have sacrificed themselves in order to ensure clean, safe, and good quality water flows through our taps every day.
Water Who Are They Operators And What They Do?
Water covers about 71% of the earth’s surface. There are two kinds of water, salt water and fresh water.
Salt water contains large quantities of salt, while fresh water has a dissolved salt concentration of less than 1%. Only fresh water can be used as drinking water.
It is undeniable that water is an incredibly important resource on earth.
It is one of the building blocks of life, and without water operators to purify it, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy good quality of clean water.
Thus, water operators play vital roles in ensuring that every drop of water up to the Malaysia National Drinking Water Quality Standards set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) whilst the sewerage operators ensure that wastewater and sewerage are treated to a certain quality and channelled into our rivers.
We probably don’t think much about where the water in our tap comes from but the truth is, it has gone through various extensive treatment processes such as wastewater collection, odour control, screening, primary treatment, bio-solids handlings, disinfection, sludge treatment and others.
These processes are run by our water operators.
Who are these water operators? They are mostly state based, namely Pengurusan Air Selangor Berhad (Air Selangor), Jabatan Bekalan Air Labuan, Ranhill SAJ Sdn Bhd (RSAJ), Syarikat Air Melaka Berhad (SAMB), Syarikat Air Negeri Sembilan Sdn Bhd (SAINS), Syarikat Air Darul Aman Sdn Bhd (SADA), Lembaga Air Perak (LAP), Pengurusan Air Pahang Berhad (PAIP), Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB), Syarikat Air Perlis (SAP), Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), and Syarikat Bekalan Air Terengganu (SATU), whilst Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd ((IWK) is a company owned by Ministry of Finance Incorporated) and Majaari Services Sdn. Bhd (Majaari).
These are the indispensable backbone of Malaysian water and sewerage treatment services.
Tears And Challenges Behind Every Water Drop
Too often than not, we forget that clean water isn’t something everyone has access to.
We take them from granted and we are wasting them more than we could ever imagine.
As our country population grows, the demand for water will continue to rise. Water operators must ensure that there is enough water available every day of the year.
With various difficulties and task that they had to adhere they are still trying their very best to provide us with safe and clean water.
While we are enjoying clean water, these water operators are facing tremendous challenges. Climate change, river pollution, and aging assets are among the main challenges for water operators.
Around the world, people are experiencing both the subtle and stark effects of climate change.
Gradually shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels and more extreme weather events are all clear and devastating evidence of a rapidly changing climate.
The impacts of climate change affect every country on every continent. The irregular rainfall for instance, have caused water shortages in the upstream portions of Malaysia water catchment areas and dams.
Rainfall volume might remain the same, but the location of the rainfall has shifted downstream. This may cause the shortage of water in water catchment areas during dry weather and might lead to an adverse effect on water supply for public.
Apart from that, land clearing activities near water catchment areas are destroying the ecosystem and polluting rivers. The continuous deterioration of the river water quality has become the major concern as it is not just affecting human health but environment as well.
Environmental conservation is crucial in order to avoid the loss of ecological resources. With the rising cases of river pollutions, water operators shall look into other alternatives in addressing the shortage of water as well as other problems associated with surface water sources.
Further, water supply service needs large investments and generates significant operation as well as maintenance costs, which have to be paid for. As it stands, water tariff well below water costs.
As such, the water operators can only treat the water according to their abilities and capacities. Water operators can expand their services, increase their skills and engage with high water technology or experts however few of these initiatives can’t be met due to the financial constraints.
A proper tariff setting mechanism could be the solution for this financial constraint as it can help the water operators to upgrade assets and capabilities and provide better quality water to the public.
The Invisible Frontliner During 2020 MCO
COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive health and economic burdens on communities around the world.
No sector of society is untouched, including the water services. Sudden changes in the levels and patterns of water demand from stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns gave a knock-on effects, affecting building water quality, customer water bills, utility revenue, as well as water and wastewater operational conditions.
Despite various limitations and changes during the Movement Control Order (MCO), water operators have teamed up with Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) to monitor water supply conditions and ensure that the water supply are enough for everyone.
Regardless of any situation, water demand will still go on. Therefore, these invisible frontliner continue their operations and work normally during MCO for the sake of providing high quality and clean water to all Malaysians.
Not just that, several water operators have introduced and provided special payment schemes as well as discounts during MCO to ease the public’s burden. Ranhill SAJ Sdn Bhd for instance, offered 50 per cent discount on water consumption charges to customers in the B40 (low-income).
This initiative might look small, but it managed to relieve the public’s burden especially those who are in needs.
Living a day without water is devastating, try imagining living in the world without water, it is inconceivable right? We are all different, but we have at least one thing in common, we cannot survive without water.
The future might bring various challenges to our water operators. They might have to deal with enormous climate change effect, the river might be filled with toxic, dangerous unknown virus might spread through water, and many more.
These are the actions that can be taken to prevent the ‘future without water’ such as water tariff restructuring, encouraging private sector involvement and investments, continuous water conservation awareness, and others.
Give to Receive!
Lao Tzu once said “The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own”. Hence let’s play our part to keep our water clean, safe, reliable and sustainable.
Give our unsung heroes a helping hand by protecting the nature and appreciate every water drop that we get to enjoy. Remember that it takes a lot of energy to treat and deliver the water to us so no matter what we are doing, always ask ourselves, do we really need that much water? Water is precious, use it wisely! – MalaysiaGazette