KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must invest RM30 billion over the next three years to regulate the water industry in response to the global climate emergency, says National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman Charles Santiago.
Santiago said the government needs to focus on decarbonising the industry, reducing its carbon footprint in the treatment of drinking water and wastewater utilities, and implementing energy efficiency measures.
“The key is to ensure adequate water supply, while creating carbon neutrality in both the treatment of drinking water and wastewater utilities,” the former Klang MP said in a statement today.
“In Malaysia, we lack focus on ensuring net-zero (carbon neutrality) in the water sector. For example, every cubic metre of water consumed generates 10.6kg of emissions.”
Santiago said non-revenue water is a huge source of wastage, adding to operating costs, in turn thwarting the sustainable management of water services.
He said the government needs to focus on recycling and reclaiming water from wastewater for industrial and construction use, developing more water storage/coastal reservoirs, upgrading water infrastructure, and gazetting water catchment areas and water reserves during droughts.
Santiago also noted that the National Water Research Institute of Malaysia has warned that Malaysia will face droughts between 2030 and 2050.
“This is alarming as insufficient water supply would affect businesses, as they can’t expand or maximise production due to lack of water, and neither would a water decarbonisation plan be able to be put in place.
“Evidently, we are facing a climate emergency. Therefore, we need to treat water as part of national security, as a national priority given climate uncertainty,” he said.
He called on state water operators to publicly pledge to realise net-zero emissions by 2034.
“We need to decarbonise the treatment of drinking water/sewerage sectors and, at the same time, ensure sufficient water supplies, given climate uncertainties.
“Postponing climate preparedness would be more costly in the future and importantly, push the country towards a climate catastrophe,” he said.