Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations 2


Read these first:-

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(Some of the quick steps taken the State Government when the state faced with serious water contamination and people’s anger over the matter got worse on daily basis. Image source: YB Hannah Yeoh)

Couple months ago (and the month before as well), a good number of households (including yours truly) in the good state of Selangor was hit by prolonged water supply disruption. The culprit was water contamination – earlier from a source in Selangor (which the state government took swift actions) and later from sources from other states. The disruption of water supply created havoc to our daily routine and we had to be on our toes when the SYABAS water tanker comes to the residential area. Thankfully to the quick work by the hard working people at SYABAS and other agencies related to water supply, the taps was running high again by afternoon of Deepavali and remained uninterrupted since then.

Inconvenience to the end users no doubt but then again, it is a wake call for the authorities & the state government to take notice and make plans for the future.

NST reported this at the start of the water supply crisis:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development chairman Gurmit Singh describes the water management system in the country as “fragmented”. “We are in this situation because we have badly managed our surface water resources. On top of that, we have the dichotomy between the federal and state governments.

“Most state governments have failed to protect and maintain their water catchment areas. This compromises and adversely affects our reservoirs and water supply. We rely on surface water, but much of it is being wasted through badly maintained and burst pipes.”

But, he says Malaysia has not reached the stage where it needs to resort to underground water sources. Gurmit calls for more efficient irrigation practices, as this will mean more water for consumers. He also suggests that industries be supplied with raw, not treated water. “They do not need high-quality water because they mainly use it for cooling purposes.”

(Source)

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(This was back in 2007 – do we have enough water catchment area protected and enforced in 2016 and beyond? The fact the water treatment closed down more often than usual due to water pollution seems to suggest that we are lacking the means to protect our natural resources. Image source: Google)

The Semenyih water treatment plant was shut down for numerous times this year despite the abundance supply of raw water (unlike 2 years, we were struggling to get raw water due to prolong hot season). Thus far, contamination of raw water have blamed and it had come to a point where the state government even began to get suspicious – is someone sabotaging the state government with the water issue?

Well, whether the suspicion turns out to be true or not, at the end of the day, it boils down to enforcement, enforcement and enforcement. Water contamination will not go away in the near future but addressing them before it gets worse and forces the shutdown of the water treatment systems is the key step here and it had to be done so consistently.

Back home, we had been prepping for water shortage and water rations way before 2014 when the level of water in the dams was dangerously low. What have changed in the years thereafter is information channels and the community coming together to assist each other in time of crisis.

The residents at my residential area belongs to the resident association who in turn created a group chat room. So one get the news of water disruption, this valuable information is quickly shared among the rest of the residents. Often it takes couple of hours from the time the water treatment plant shuts down and to the time the taps at home goes dry. So if one gets the information as early as possible, there is more than enough time to quickly save up water. That means the house water tank to be full to top as well as the 3 huge water buckets (one is kept at the porch for ease of filling up water from SYABAS water tankers). Then there is several smaller buckets and in addition to that several containers of clean water for drinking & cooking.

And as an additional measure, couple of cartons of 1.5 liter drinking bottles also kept in the “doomsday store room” – 12 bottles cost less than RM10 per carton (which is a good deal). The trick is to buy them upfront & store before the news gets leaked on the water disruption and there is a mad rush to buy drinking water. At one point, I even had to drive out to places where there is not water disruption to buy drinking water as the ones near my house had fully sold out (including those expense ones).

And we have been keeping sharp eyes on water leaks to ensure that in time of crisis and when water becomes precious, we don’t have hidden leaks that reduces our water storage. And in the past, major leaks had come from broken water tank and in the end, we had to make a whole water tank replacement (after several attempts to patch the holes in the old water tank). That replacement costed us almost RM1000 but it was worth it in the long run.

Keeping the water at the water tank aside, we set priority on which of the water containers we will use first so that when the water authorities sends their water tankers, we can get ready the empty containers and pots to be replenished fast. And there is a good reason for that. The water tankers do not come at scheduled time and sometimes by the time they passes by the road in front of the house, the water level in the tanker is very low (they will send another tanker full of water later but we won’t know when). There were once the water tanker came in the early mornings when it was raining heavily and everyone was fast asleep – at times, timing just sucks.

And big containers are not feasible to use when the water tankers come because it does not fit the hose of the tanker and when it is full, it will be difficult to carry them. So we empty the smaller containers into the bigger containers as and when the level of water comes down. We then arrange these smaller containers, buckets and pots nearer to the main door so that we don’t have to search for them later when the water tanker comes. And everyone in the family chips on the effort of collecting the water from water tankers and this includes the kids who can carry the smaller containers. And like a well oiled machine, we keep doing it until the big containers are full and thereafter the smaller containers as well (thanks to the SYABAS guys who wait patiently for the residents to get their supply of water)

In addition to the off-beat water tanker timing, we also did not forget about the natural source of water – the rainwater which we can use for dish washing and for the toilets. Thankfully it rains often in the evenings so there is no lack of opportunities. There is no high tech rainwater harvesting system in place yet but a rough, low tech system consisting of simple buckets and roof gutters does the job just effectively. But a proper rainwater harvesting system is still in the pipeline in the future.

In end, a good mix of quick information, plenty of upfront storage of water to last the whole family for couple of days, prioritizing the usage of water and ensuring ways to replenish the supply of water kept us in the “cool” until the water contamination issue resolved and the supply is back to normal. There are many people in this country still don’t have access to clean water for their daily use so it is important we manage the water resources effectively and conserve water as much as possible. Our water resources already under tremendous constraint to meet the ever growing population and industrial needs, so faster we act, the better we can manage in the future.

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Smoke Gets In My Eyes, Again!


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(The hotspots in Indonesia is a yearly affair and it some how had become “tolerable” when by right it should not be the case. The above when Singapore faced the worst from the slash & burn activities in Indonesia. Image source: http://marufish.com)

At the beginning of last week, this was reported on the state of haze in Malaysia:-

Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country’s worst pollution levels in years.

The worst of the smog has shifted from Singapore to southernmost Malaysia, where noxious fumes have drifted across the sea this past week from Indonesia’s Sumatra island. The Malaysian government’s index for air pollution reached a measurement of 746 early Sunday in the southern district of Muar. It was far above the threshold of 300 for hazardous air quality.

Authorities were issuing instructions for Muar’s residents to remain indoors and for schools to close, Environment Minister G. Palanivel said in a statement on his Facebook page. The district has about 250,000 people, several of whom posted photographs on Twitter showing bridges and buildings enveloped in smog that slashed visibility to barely hundreds of meters (feet).

(Source)

And since then, some schools in the Klang Valley were closed for a couple of days (my son certainly was not complaining though) with all of us breathing in and out some of the very unhealthy air todate – some spiked more than 400 on the API reading. But thanks to (man made? or perhaps God taking pity on some of us) heavy rain last week and recent days, API readings have gone down to less dangerous levels and things seemed to have come down to a more normal levels (although last Sunday the haze was back). But hopefully despite the clear skies, we will not be forgetting the culprits who caused some of the worse air pollution over some states in Malaysia last week or keeping our silence on preventing similar occurrence in the coming years.

For start, the Indonesian Government have (once again) blamed (and listed) the “Malaysian” firms involved in the opening burning in Sumatra and on paper, the Malaysian Government have asked for proof and urged prosecution against the wrongdoers but it is a big question on whether the Indonesians would be willing to do that. We are talking big players here and a very aggressive prosecution on something that could be tough to prove (as to who started the fire) could back-fire big time – big players may pull out and huge investments may drop. Think about it – if they could prosecute the culprits, they would have done so a long time ago and that would have been the end of the yearly man-made deadly haze, right?

Interestingly whilst this is still being debated between the Governments, the Malaysian firms having plantation interests in Indonesia have come out emphasizing on their zero burn policy and flatly denied that they were the culprits behind the massive haze over Malaysia & Singapore – they are putting the blame on the locals who determined to do it the easy way. That sounds reasonable but is it?

The standard response has been to blame local communities and smallholders in Sumatra for the clear-cutting and slash-and-burn tactics. It is easy to blame the small guys/local farmers/local communities, etc when they are unable to respond in the media.

Yet, an overlay map of Sumatra shows that there is a close correlation between the hotspots (where the burning is taking place) and the concession areas for oil palm plantations and timber.

So, the large companies then engage some of these local communities to clear the land for them – sort of like outsourcing the land-clearing. And then these local communities do it in the easiest or cheapest way possible. Moreover, the local people often do not have the expertise for replanting, which the large companies possess. But because it is the local communities doing the clearing, the large companies are able to wash their hands and pass the buck to the local communities.

(Source)

And it gets worse if these allegations are true:-

The whole world knows, and has for years, that the haze is not just the product of ‘burning-off’ by a ragtag bunch of small farmers, but wholesale illegal clearance of what’s left of Sumatra’s peat forests by the managements of massive palm-oil plantations.

And that many of these environmental vandals are so-called government-linked corporations which the respective ruling regimes involved are coy about naming because they and their cronies are the principal beneficiaries.

(Source)

In the end, it goes back to the issue of enforcement and the deploying the best method for clearing the land for plantation.

The issue is serious (at least for me) when you have small kids and old people at home and they start to have breathing difficulties and there is nothing much we could do about it. Mind you, 2 people died from all the haze in Malaysia, courtesy of the idiots in Indonesia taking short cuts to clear the land. One of their Ministers even had the cheek to say that the Singaporeans are acting childish on this (some politicians will remain a moron to the core no matter which country they are from). Perhaps some of you may not have small kids and old people to take care of but then what about your own health concerns in the long run? How long you think you can survive wearing mask when you go out? Don’t you get frustrated, angry and sick at the same? What about the negative impact to the country’s economy especially in the tourism sector – how many tourists you think will be willing to take a long stroll outside if the haze is thick and sickening?  In the end, will the slash & burn buggers compensate for these losses – both the economic and personal losses?

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(If there is fire and it cannot be done with simple tools, it is time to look at a more powerful one. One such tool would be the fire-fighting aircraft like the one made by Russia above – it is more effective once coupled with the traditional fire-fighting techniques on the ground. Image source: http://02varvara.wordpress.com)

The “problem” with the problem is that everyone knows what need to be done. The mysterious part would be on the Governments with all its might, expertise and will-power seems to be powerless when this happens on a yearly basis and one need to ask why the might of the law and almost unlimited resources of the Government have not been used to the fullest scale? Sucking up to the slash & burn offenders does has its limits. Instead of being reactive to the problem, why not be proactive instead? After all, trans boundary air pollution is not something one can hide under the blue carpet.

Enforcement aspect aside (it is all talk and no action here for donkey odd years), let’s start with a beef-up the fire services with a specialize team on the forest & peat fires with superior technology (like early warning systems), tools (such fire-fighting planes) and man-power all paid in advance on a yearly basis from a centralised fund (all donated graciously from all plantation owners)? Why not use the satellite imaginary system to pin-point the start of the peat and use the information to coordinate fire-fighting and enforcement on a more aggressive manner? It can be done if this need to be done.

But before that, the Indonesia Government should start with ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution is an environmental agreement established in 2002 between all ASEAN nations to reduce haze pollution in Southeast Asia. There should not be any more excuses from the Indonesians, now that the source of the haze is clearly is self made and is in their own back yard.

Time to breathe in and breathe out before the next round of haze is back

Largest Oil Spill


Photo caption: A May 17, 2010 satellite image provided by NASA shows a large patch of oil visible near the site of the Deepwater oil spill, and a long ribbon of oil stretched far to the southeast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that a small portion of the slick had entered the so-called loop current, a stream of fast moving water that circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/NASA). (Image source and more photos here)

In case, you been busy with other matters

BP’s COO Doug Suttles has announced that operation Top Kill, a plan involving the pumping of heavy mud, concrete, and junk into its gushing oil well 5,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, has failed.

The next step, the New York Times reports, is a “lower marine riser package cap,” in which workers plan to saw off the riser and put a device on top to capture the oil. So far, the leak has resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Experts say anywhere from 504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day are escaping from the well that ruptured after Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon platform (leased by BP) exploded on April 20.

Recently, scientists have discovered that a massive amount of the oil has not risen to the surface and could be lurking 1,000 feet or more under the surface of the gulf. One plume is an estimated 22 miles long. PBS has a running estimate, based on several evaluations of the flow rate (BP has not acknowledged a definitive figure).

(Source: Fast Company)

504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day or estimated 180 million gallon leaked todate or 681 million litres (1 gallon = 3.78541178 liters). That is enough to cover a full tank for 17 million cars (rough estimate).

Meanwhile, we are having same problem over here:-

The Department of Environment estimates that 16km of shoreline have been polluted by the oil spill from the collision of two vessels in the Singapore Strait.

DOE director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said clean-up efforts were in progress and over 18,911 litres of oil had been collected so far.

(Source: TheStar)

More oil spill means shortage of supply to end consumers and that is seriously affect the oil price.