IT IS time for us to be dam watchers again. The southwest monsoon began in the middle of last month and that means Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak will likely be hotter and drier until September.
That triggers the familiar anxiety about our water supply. Or call it that sinking feeling again. Will the water level in the dams drop alarmingly to the point that water rationing becomes necessary?
Right now, all but one of the Klang Valley’s eight dams are full or just shy of it, according to the Selangor Water Management Authority website. The lone exception is the Batu dam, whose storage level yesterday morning was about 79%.
But we have gone through enough dry spells to know that such things cannot be taken for granted.
A kink in the weather pattern can result in the dam levels falling faster than usual. And when pollution fouls a river that is a source for water treatment plants, the impact lingers longer if the river’s water level has declined.
Both situations can lead to disruptions in the water supply to our homes and businesses.
This is why Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), which distributes water to over 10 million people in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, recently reminded consumers to be more careful when using water.
The company pointed out that the rise in water demand and consumption during the current hot weather was expected to lower water levels of its reservoirs.
To conserve water during this period, Syabas advised people to avoid using water for non-critical purposes such as washing vehicles, cleaning drains and watering garden plants.
Most of us have heard this before, but are we taking it seriously? Do we need to go through the hardship of water rationing again and again before it is finally drummed into our heads that water is precious and that life without it is unthinkable.
In fact, we should be saving water all year round. Using water as sparingly as possible should be a lifelong habit, not a reluctant change in behaviour because a water shortage may happen.
To get there, we need to realise that the value of water is not really reflected in our water bills. What we pay – some households in Selangor do not pay anything at all because of the state’s free water scheme – is essentially for the services relating to the treatment and distribution of water.
Water is cheap because it is relatively abundant. But when our taps run dry, we are suddenly willing to fork out more to get it.
We need not wait for such a day before appreciating its true value.