Malaysia should tap into groundwater resources as an alternative source of water for the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob during the launch of the World Water Day 2022 at Taman Awam Bera yesterday (26 March).
He said that Malaysia’s use of groundwater is at less 3% despite its capacity of 5,000 billion cubic metres of groundwater resource and regeneration capability of 64 billion cubic metres annually.
He then compared Malaysia to other countries that made use of their groundwater.
“Malaysia utilises less groundwater compared with Denmark which uses 100% of its groundwater, Austria uses 98%, our neighbours Thailand optimise up to 80%, China 78% and the United States about 50%.” he said.
“Currently in Malaysia, groundwater is used as a source of drinking water in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perlis, Kedah, Sabah and Sarawak.” he added.
Ismail said the National Water Resources Study (NWRS) for Peninsular Malaysia (2000-2050) had proposed to build more water catchment areas or reservoirs to meet the needs and demands for domestic water supply and irrigation until 2050.
“The study found that groundwater can be used as an alternative source for rural and remote areas catering for various use including industrial, agriculture and domestic use through several appropriate methods and processes.”
“The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry through the Department of Mineral and Geoscience has begun efforts such as mapping, developing, monitoring and establishing a Groundwater Data Centre and Inventory.” he said.
Ismail added that this approach will boost the use of groundwater as a conjunctive source of national water supply during the construction of underground dams, artificial aquifers (managed aquifer recharge) and river bank filtration.
Meanwhile, he said that continued measures will be carried out to strengthen and harmonise governance related to groundwater resources with all the stakeholders at both the federal and state level.
He also called all stakeholders to pay attention and take continuous action to preserve water resources, especially groundwater to ensure water availability.
Ismail then said that although Malaysia has sufficient resources to provide safe and treated water, there were still issues and challenges related to water management that needed to be addressed effectively to achieve sustainable and holistic management of the country’s water resources.
The issues include excessive quantities of water during the rainy season, insufficient amounts during droughts as well as deteriorating water quality and uneven distribution.