Deputy minister: S’wak’s water resources not just for human consumption, but economic growth too

Dr Hazland (4th left) witnesses the presentation of a mock-cheque amounting to RM200,000 from SAI director Md Nasir Md Zain (2nd left) to Wong for the industrial research project as part of a CSR initiative.

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By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, March 18: Everyone needs to play a role in protecting Sarawak’s water resources, as it is vital not only for life but economic growth of the region in various sectors, including renewable energy, manufacturing, and tourism, among others.

Deputy Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability Dr Hazland Abang Hipni thus called on everyone to make all efforts to safeguard Sarawak’s water resources, especially from pollution by wastewater and untreated septic sludge.

“Severe climate change, extreme weather patterns, vast growing population, and the availability of clean water for drinking and human survival is dwindling.

“It is also critical for the region’s economy. Sarawak’s economy will need water to grow. An example is our manufacturing and tourism industry. In addition, with the availability of water, we can venture into generating clean energy, hydro energy, and hydrogen, which need water.

“Therefore, our Sarawak government has put in place wastewater management system and sanitation to ensure the state’s water resources are continuously protected,” Dr Hazland said at the launch of Sar-Alam Indah Sdn Bhd’s (SAI) awareness event on the impact of wastewater on the environment of Sarawak in conjunction with World Water Day 2023.

Like other countries in the world, he said Sarawak also faces many intertwined environmental challenges.

Dr Hazland added that climate change and ecosystem degradation are related to the causes of water pollution, floods and droughts.

To raise awareness on the importance of water, the impact of wastewater on the environment of Sarawak and meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, SAI director Bernard Yong said people might think that they will never run out of water resources because it covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface.

“However, 97 per cent of earth’s water is salt water, two per cent is frozen in glaciers, and only one per cent is available to meet the daily needs of humans, animals, and plants.

“The exponential growth of the human population has increased the amount of wastewater generated over the years. Untreated wastewater will pollute waterways, affecting water quality for human consumption and the river’s aquatic ecosystem. In addition, it will also enable waterborne diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Hepatitis A to spread easily,” Yong warned.

Therefore, he urged everyone to be responsible for ensuring Sarawak’s water resources are not polluted with sewage sludge and other pollutants by maintaining their own home septic tanks and desludging according to the prescribed frequency.

Among those who attended the event were Sarawak Sewerage Services Department director Datu Ir Lau Hieng Ung, Acting Controller of Environmental Quality Sarawak Paul Bond Chamberlin, and chief executive officer of Swinburne Innovation Malaysia, Professor Wallace Wong.

Meanwhile, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ongoing effort to improve wastewater management solutions in Sarawak, SAl, together with the Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak (SUT), signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to collaborate in an industrial research project entitled ‘Sludge Accumulation Rate and Characteristics of Septic Tanks’. — DayakDaily