Recycling is not only applicable for aluminium cans, glass bottles, and newspapers but it is also applied to water. Water recycling is reusing treated wastewater for beneficial purposes such as agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, toilet flushing, and replenishing a ground water basin. According to the Former Chief Executive Officer Indah Water Konsortium (IWK), Datuk Abdul KadirMohd Din, the treated wastewater produced by IWK on 2014 is 6,000 plants amounts to 4,000 million litres a day, which is a quarter of the water used for drinking. If that huge amount of recycled water use for non-potable uses, Malaysia could save tap water for other necessary purposes such as for human consumption.
Water recycling could be the sustainable alternative water source and it is reliable source especially during drought as the wastewater is produced every single day at any time.Wastewater is available in significant volumes that increase with urban growth. Thus, it will increases a community’s available water supply and by then Malaysians will no more faced the water shortages problem in the future.
In fact, it is predicted that in the future, there might be happening water shortages for certain countries. Hence, Malaysia should really put reclaimed water into prominent consideration as well as other options such as groundwater and surface run-off water. Diversifying our water sources helps ensure water security. As the recent water crisis showed, it will be imprudent to just rely on rivers for our water needs.The United Nations (UN)warns that half the world population will face water scarcity by 2030, due to the accelerated climate change and population growth. Wide scale and long term water shortages could affect the food production, as well as could cause major health crisis by the increased exposure to unsanitary water. Recently, due to the insufficient clean water it already kills millions of people each year through waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.
There are few advantages that benefitted the consumers and country. By using wastewater as a resource rather than a waste product you can:
• Reduce water bills
• Use fewer water resources
• Irrigate the garden during drought or water restrictions
• Cut down the amount of pollution going into waterways
• Help save money on new infrastructure for water supplies and wastewater treatment
• Decrease demand on infrastructure for sewage transport, treatment and disposal, allowing it to work better and last longer.
Reusing of wastewater from sinks, shower and dishwasher can be done at home. The wastewater comes from the sinks, shower and dishwasher is called greywater. The greywater can be used to wash the cars, to watering the plants and to flush the toilet. However, the recycled water is non-potable which means it is not suitable for human consumption. By reusing the grey water for other non-potable purposes can reduce the water bill as well as can save the water especially during the drought.
Recycled water can satisfy most water demands, as long as it is treated adequately. However, most of the public might be sceptical about using the recycled water. Having thought of using recycled water to be used in daily routine would disgust them. Hence, in order to change the public scepticism, more and more public education on this matter should be done. The water players also need to ensure that the reclaimed water quality will meet the raw water quality standards.
In conclusion, there will always have alternative ways to solve the water crisis. The government need to look for other options rather than to fully rely on the current water resources to meet the water demand which keep rising along with the urban growth.
Nur Imani Abdullah
Research & Policy Executive
Water and Energy Consumer Association (WECAM)