Saturday, March 10, 2012

KLORR – adding to the growing list of concerns we have for the sustainable management of Malaysia’s freshwater

Freshwater is becoming one of the most critical natural resource issues facing the planet.  Human beings can survive for only a few days without freshwater.  We currently have 7 billion people on the planet, Malaysia has nearly 30 million people. Yet there is no more freshwater on earth now than there was 2,000 years ago.

To add to this crisis, we are now in the age of climate change - rising sea levels, flooding of coastal areas, increased drought and intense storms, decreases in agriculture yields, and the possibility of salt water intrusion into underground aquifers and farmland.

Climate change will lead to changes in rainfall patterns.  Some areas may experience more serious drought, others may experience more intense typhoons and rainstorms.  According to Met Office Hadley Centre, population increases, combined with changes in river run-off as a result of changes in rainfall patterns and increased temperatures, could mean that by 2080 there will be significantly less water available to people living under water stress.

Are we living in an area of water stress? Since 2000, there have been cries of a water crisis in the Klang Valley.  Yet neither the Federal nor the Selangor State governments have taken any measurable action to avert this “crisis” - except await the construction of the RM11 billion Kelau dam and inter-state water transfer project.

Malaysia has some of the highest rainfall in the world.  We certainly should have enough water.  We are just grossly misusing it.  There has been little or no effort to reduce the high water consumption levels of users – domestic, industrial and agricultural users, nor has there been a real effort to plug the leaking pipes that lead to nearly 35% lost water.  Nor are we seeing any serious effort to reduce the rate we are polluting our rivers, which on numerous occasions has lead to water being untreatable for human use.

Now both the Federal and State government want to build an expressway through 2 water catchment forests in the Selangor State Park, namely the Hulu Gombak (Klang Gates reservoir) and the Ampang Forest Reserves. The KLORR is yet another addition to the growing list of concerns we have for the sustainable management of Malaysia’s freshwater.

A six lane expressway will not just “have some impact on nature,”  as stated by the Selangor State Government.    The highway, together with the pending impacts of climate change and further misuse of our water resources, will impact the entire population of Kuala Lumpur and residents of Ampang – about 2 million people.

International studies have demonstrated that major cities should focus efforts and funds on conserving forests that naturally purify their drinking water.  Doing so has been proven to save cities billions of dollars on water treatment facilities.  And the rivers in the Hulu Gombak and Ampang forest areas of the Selangor State Park are extremely clean.

Environmental specialists from the World Bank have stated that "For many cities, time is running out. Protecting forests around water catchment areas is no longer a luxury but a necessity."

According a paper in 2007 by Equilibrium Research, the presence of forest on Mount Kenya saved Kenya’s economy more than US$20 million by protecting the catchment for two of the country’s main river systems, the Tana and the Ewaso Ngiro.

New York City is spending US$1 billion to conserve and protect water catchment areas in upstate New York the source of the city's drinking water. The alternative would be to spend $5 billion on a state-of-the-art water filtration plant that would cost an additional $300 million a year to operate.

So why are both our Federal and Selangor State Government so unwilling to see the value in protecting our existing water catchment areas? Residents and NGO have been protesting against the KLORR since it first appeared in the Draft Structure Plans back in 1998, to no avail.

We cannot think that just because we spoil our water supply in one location, we can then look to another location for new supply.  We cannot keep looking at new development and construction as the cure-all for our nation’s problems.  This is not sustainable, realistic nor economically sound.  Add to this, our water supply and natural forests are finite.  Once we’ve destroyed them it will be nearly impossible to get them back.

Most people are concerned about the traffic on the MRR2. However, building more roads encourages more traffic which requires more road building thus resulting in a vicious cycle of ever increasing roads and traffic. The Malaysian public desires better, smarter solutions than this.

While building another expressway to solve the traffic woes of Jalan Ulu Kelang may be good for the next election, building an 6 lane expressway through our water catchment is clearly not a good investment in the long term.  As true leaders of this country, the Federal and State governments need to make hard decisions that will lead us down a sustainable path, that will ensure both current and future generations will have all the resources they need to survive and succeed.

To Quote and Get More Info, Please Read More Here:

2012 Met Office Hadley Centre together with the Britian’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

2012 Selangor Will Not Block Expressway:
2007 by Equilibrium Research:

1997 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Population Information Program Study:

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