Prepping in Malaysia: Water Rations


water chart level

(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.

pailswatershortagelim0103

(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.

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Prepping in Malaysia Part 4


Now that the GE13 has ended and Pakatan had settled the issue of the Menteri Besar in Selangor rather peacefully (thank God!), probably it is a best time to go back to our daily routine and one of it would be on prepping.

Read these first:-

canned food

(The canned food in the storeroom. Having enough food and clean drinking water for the family draws the highest priority on my prepping list but of course looking for storage place without it is left on the open is fast becoming an issue – I blame this on housing developers not having basement as a standard house designs in this country. It’s time to be highly creative with storage)

The world did not end last year but it was not the end of prepping as we moved over to 2013. We still had sporadic water disruptions although it was not that bad at my residential area – the water supply resumes the same day although some of my colleagues still had water disruption for days. We have yet to hit the big one on natural disasters including solar storms and global wide pandemic. On the other side of the coin, the recent general elections went rather peaceful and things soon got into a routine just a few days after it had ended although politicians are keeping the fire up the wrong issues for their own political reasons (appointment of the “once banned, once running fugitive” Hindraf’s Waytha as a Deputy Minister and uninspiring Cabinet Ministers however could be good reason to be concerned). So the panic purchase of essential goods before the elections did not happen although I did see more people with extra rice bags in their shopping carts this time around.

There have not been that many changes to my own level of prepping at home other than rearranging some of the storage and cleaning out some of drawers to keep more things.

We now have at least two 10 kg bags of rice on “standby” – when we use one up and pour the load into a separate rice container (which holds about 15 kg of rice), this bag is quickly replaced with a new bag. We had stocked up more on salt, sugar & cooking oil (even since the local store ran out of sugar one day) – all that we use in our daily cooking and always in demand. Storage of the canned food now includes bottles of sauce for spaghetti (my wife nowadays cook them for dinner). I have also added couple bottles of honey – which will come handy if we run out of sugar and of course does not have any expiry date. Air-tight containers (recycled from long titbits containers) are a good way to store spices and other small items – containers are easily stacked up. Instant noodles remains one of the more essential items in the store-room and have a drawer on its own and we now 00include dry noodle packets – it’s cheaper and flexible enough when it comes to cooking them. We stick to the principle of “storing what we eat and eat what we store” – this is to ensure stored food does not expire and we always the “latest” food stored.

One key thing that has improved greatly compared to last year is the understanding among family members on the need for prepping – so they all help out whenever they can when it comes to prepping. Prepping is no longer “sounds Greek”. No more weird looks when I talk about prepping. Family members do their own sundry shopping and whenever possible, now adds to the number of items in the “prepping” storeroom. This of course puts more strain on the available space so we had to be more creative in storing. Despite the rearranging things in the storeroom, squeezing every little bit of space, it is clear that we are running out of storage fast – the renovation of my kitchen (we hoped to get plenty of storage space once done) had to be kept on hold as we have not finalised the contractor, design & the budget.

And when it comes to storage, we also have non-food items to content with – spare batteries, candles, water filters, toiletries, garbage bags and washing items. My son’s room had the space and with a large cabinet in one corner with some old clothes and non essential items taking up precious space, it was time for another round of house-keeping. We threw away 1-2 bags of old DVDs from my collection and at least 3 large bags of old clothes (this one will go into the neighbourhood recycle bin) – we had cleared enough space to store our bathroom essentials – packages of soap bars, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, shaving blades, etc. At another corner, washing essentials – floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tiles cleaners – all kept in place with proper ventilation and far from reach of children. And just like anyone running a storeroom anywhere in the world, inventory checking is a must and we often do that before month end and before we prepare the next month’s shopping list. It also gives us the chance to check on the expiry dates, condition of the items in the storeroom, rotate or use them accordingly and work out the quantity in the storeroom.

Next on the item is drinking water. There is still no rainwater harvesting system in place but this year (thanks to the water leaking into the bedroom), we managed to fix the leaks up at the roof and the water tanks. We can now be assured that we will always have at least full water tank in place should the water supply disrupted without notice. The two 15 litres containers for drinking water remains unchanged – I thought of adding another container but space in the kitchen is at a premium. So I decided to maintain the large raw water drum in the storeroom with a planned replenish cycle of 6 months. There are no plans to add any new water drums / containers until perhaps after my kitchen have gone through the overdue renovation (I already can imagine one corner to stack up with water containers – actively used for drinking and cooking).

When it comes to prepping, one cannot run away from the concept of bug-out-bag or as some would call – “mobile prepping”. I thought I have a reasonable bug-out-bag which I bring along when I go out to work or on long distant journey. My version of the bug-out-bug is not extensive although I want it to be – most of the items are stored in the house instead of the bag. But the more I think about it and as more prepping is done at home, it is clear that my bug-out-bag still has a long way to go before it is considered a bug-out-bag is sufficient enough to sustain for the next 72 hours. So I decided to re-designate it as more of a “get-home” bag (with key things – food, water, utility knife and clothes) than a proper 72 hours bug-out-bag. Work on a proper bug-out-bag have to take a back seat for the time being although I have the right bag for it (tucked away somewhere).

There is still outstanding work to be done namely on improvement of safety and trying to grow own vegetables in our small garden to minimise costs. We tried it before with chillies and tomatoes but the vegetables that we grew did not do well after attacked by pests. We still have 7 months to go before end of the year, so there’s still time to get things done. Perhaps with a mini greenhouse for the plants. For those who have not think about prepping, there is always time and opportunity to start this. We should have “always be ready” mindset so that when the tough gets going, we should always have Plan B lying around somewhere.

To be continued and happy prepping…