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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Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations


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(More people means higher consumption and coupled with a longer run of the dry season causes a dangerous level at the water catchment areas. Image source: TheStar)

Here are some snippets on the on-going water ration that you may have or may not have read.

At first comes the disbelief and outrage of the whole idea of water rationing (understandably from those who need a constant supply of water for business) – after all, we never had water ration in the past before and it is a fact that Malaysia stacks at the middle of the tropics and is no stranger to heavy rain in the evenings makes water rationing almost an alien concept :-

Malaysians reacted with a mixture of disbelief and outrage over the announcement that even more water cuts would be headed their way beginning this Friday. Having been forced to change their lifestyles to weather the water crisis, residents and business owners alike were demanding that the authorities figure out a way to improve the situation fast.

(Source)

This year, water rationing has become a harsh reality and I am sure in the coming years, water rations would be a yearly event. And despite the disbelief & outrage that one may make on the water rations, this is reality and there is nothing anyone could do if we do not want to deplete the water so quickly. Water ration in the Klang Valley started with Phase 1 back in February 2014, subsequently Phases 2 & 3 was initiated and we have now come to Phase 4 which started last week and already there are talks of Phase 5 water rationing:-

Phase four of water rationing in the Klang Valley begins on Friday but talks on phase five are already taking place as water reserves at dams in Selangor continue to drop below critical levels. Insiders say if the water levels decrease and rain does not fall over the water catchments areas, rationing could continue until the end of the year.

(Source)

And for the record, even the wettest town in the country is facing the same problem and this should indicate the chaos in the climate system in the last few years:-

Water rationing in the country’s wettest town, Taiping, begins today and will last two weeks. Public utilities, infrastructure, energy and water committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin said the water rationing will affect 23,719 households in Taiping as well as several areas in Kamunting.

“Although there was heavy rainfall near the Air Kuning dam area over the weekend, we will still go ahead with rationing to control and maintain a healthy level of water supply in the district,” he said. He said this is the first time water rationing is being carried out in the state.

(Source)

It may get worse in the coming years. Water has always been one of the key priority at home when it comes prepping and readiness for unexpected long term water disruption. Now we are faced with actual water rations with some saying will last until July this year (or worse December), it was interesting to see what worked and what did not and what can be improved.

Rainwater harvesting system

Before I go further, for your information, there is no rainwater harvesting system in place yet. It is not that I have not given it’s due thought on this – no doubt, rainwater harvesting system will cut down the usage of treated water used for car washing, toilet and general cleaning and will save up on the water bills. One big problem is finding enough space for the rain water harvesting system. It is not a small piece that one can just plug and play. Presently there is only limited space on my porch and the only I could expand it is if I renovate the whole place (one day I will) by shifting the pillars to the side and tile up the whole area. For the time being, there is no time or budget for that.

But having said that, I wonder why there has not been a greater call for rain water harvesting system to be part of the standard facility for all new housing areas. House price is already at an insane level – a couple of more thousand does not make any much difference. This rain water harvesting system remains an illusive item to most of us and it is not because of the price or lack of suppliers in the country but rather it is due to a lack of the space.

I did try to set up a very rudimentary rainwater harvesting system – a simple pail set at where the rain water falls from the roof and the water then stored in a water drum that can be sealed and used for toilets. But this cannot be done all the time especially when sometimes there is a serious lack of rain and if it rains, it is not enough to fill up the pail.

Realigning water usage

Obviously with water rations in place with 2 days with water and 2 days without water, we had to change our lifestyle rather drastically.

The first one to be thrown out of the window was my weekly car wash. I also have decided not to visit the road side car wash – it is still good water down the drain (I wonder why road side care wash centers are not banned in time of water crisis). On the days when we don’t get water, we still use the washing machine for washing clothes as normal BUT not for the whole washing process. My wife hand pre-washes the clothes first using less water (assuming) and then put these clothes into the washing machine on SPIN mode which spins the clothes but does not use water. There’s less work for my wife too.

Long showers have been cut short too. These days we take enough to keep ourselves clean. This however does not apply for the kids – they still have to take a proper shower. Same goes for cooking at home (which also means dish washing). On the days when we don’t get water, we don’t cook. We opt to eat outside. However the negative side of this is that we have to spend more money to buy food from outside. Yes, we save water in a way but in the long run, it is not cost effective. Money that could be used for water bills ends up many fold over on outside food and drinks.

And last week, when the kitchen cabinet contractors finally came to start work on my new kitchen cabinet (yes, finally!), we had to schedule their work time with the day when we get the water. Thankfully the workers’ boss understood the situation and rescheduled the work schedule for us.

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(Selling like hot cakes – plastic water storage. Image source: theStar)

Extra storage

The other aspect of water ration is water storage. With less water used on days when the water is rationed by realigning the use of treated water, there is an added comfort if you have that extra storage of water lying some where in the house, just in case the water ration is extended for another day or two. Water storage is very high on our priority list.

In addition to the house water tank located on the roof, we had to ensure that we had stored enough water for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and for use of toilet and this must be enough to last the whole household for at least 2 days or more. From the onset, as part of my prepping readiness, I had ensured that storage for drinking water is addressed first. We can go on without bathing for days but we cannot do the same when it comes to drinking water.

The 2 large 15 liters water containers was more than enough to sustain us for the 2 days (despite the water disruption and the warm weather making us to drink more water). Based on my calculation, it should last us for at least a week. And to be on the safe side, for my daughter’s use, we also bought 2 boxes of 1.5 liter drinking water bottles. Each box has about 1.5 liter 12 bottles – so in total we had about 66 liters of drinking water which is sufficient to meet the daily recommended water intake per person for 1 week. In addition to this, we had filled up 4 pots of raw tap water that can be easily boiled for drinking. That adds another 40 liters of drinking water. So drinking water was not a major problem.

For bath and toilet, we had bought 3 huge water containers (about 80 liters each) at about RM70 each (price jacked due to the water crisis, no doubt) and this is filled to the brim when we had water and kept this stored water unused until the house tank water goes dry.

Moving forward

Then the question that begs to be answered is whether with Phase 1, 2, 3 & 4 water rations in place, does it really saves up water? If you ask me, it does not – it seems like we still use the same amount water on an average basis. Dirty clothes still need to be washed. We still need to take shower and use the toilet. We may not cook at home but since we buy food from the outside, the restaurant still uses water. But this is something for the authorities to consider in the long run. As individual preppers, what is more important is storage and managing usage for greater sustainability.

This makes an interesting case study for prepping in Malaysia in the coming years and may inspire non-believers, those who had thought good things are here forever to be a prepper. Water rations could just be start of things to come. With more changes to the global climate, things will change and some will change drastically. At the end, it will fall on how ready we are to meet these changes.