Ulu Muda kian terancam, sumber bekalan air di utara semenanjung turut terancam

Oleh Shahrul Izwan Naser

Mungkin ada di antara kita tidak mengetahui mengenai Hutan Simpan Ulu Muda yang terletak di utara semenanjung tanahair. Begitu juga yang tidak mengetahui kepentingan Hutan Simpan Ulu Muda yang merupakan kawasan tadahan air bagi menampung keperluan air di negeri Kedah, Pulau Pinang dan Perlis.

Sebanyak 96.5% bekalan air terawat di Kedah dan 80% bekalan air terawat di Pulau Pinang datangnya daripada 3 empangan buatan manusia -- Muda, Pedu dan Ahning -- yang membentuk punca air untuk Sungai Muda dan Sungai Kedah.

Ulu Muda juga merupakan sumber air untuk ‘periuk nasi’ negara apabila  sawah padi di Kedah dan selatan Perlis menerima bekalan air daripada punca hutan simpan tersebut. Bekalan air dari Ulu Muda juga membolehkan sawah padi di negeri Kedah dan kawasan dataran pantai di selatan negeri Perlis mengamalkan penanaman dua kali setahun.

Ini menyumbang kepada kira-kira 45% hingga 50% daripada pengeluaran beras negara dan merupakan sumber pendapatan bagi 55,000 buah keluarga. Ini bermakna Ulu Muda merupakan hutan tadahan air yang berkepentingan kepada negara.

Selain itu, Ulu Muda juga menjadi bekalan air utama bagi menjana industri berat, kilang elektronik dan sektor pelancongan di Kedah dan Pulau Pinang -- menarik lebih RM32 bilion nilai pelaburan untuk Bandar Teknologi Tinggi Kulim dan menghasilkan lebih 30 ribu pekerjaan berpendapatan tinggi.

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Country Facing Serious Water Risks

BY HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM (The Star Nation - 14 August 2016)
 

PETALING JAYA: Several areas in eight states and Kuala Lumpur are expected to be under increased risk of water issues by the year 2020, despite Malaysia being located in the tropical zone, which receives high rainfall.

The World Resources Institute (WRI), which developed the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, has projected a 1.4-fold increase in water stress levels for some areas in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Johor by 2020.

This is a 1.4-fold increase in water stress currently experienced by these places.

Kuah, in Kedah, is expected to come under a two-fold increase in the water stress level.

The projected change shows how development and climate change are expected to affect water stress in the country.

This is measured in a “business as usual” scenario, which represents a world with stable economic development and steadily rising global carbon emissions, said WRI.

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said development and densely populated areas were reasons for increased water demand in these places.

He added that an increase in population but decrease in resources could cause water-related stress.

“If you look at the equilibrium, we have sufficient water but some rivers are polluted so this also poses a risk,” said Piarapakaran.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said water-related stress could dent the SME industry, especially the food manufacturing industry.

Kang said SMEs and the Govern­ment should start taking management and preventive measures for the future, should there be water shortage or rationing.

“Within the SMEs, they should know how to save water and fully utilise it. They can recycle water, collect rain water or have reserve.

“For example, some mixed concrete factories in China have ways of recycling water so it is not discharged outside. This is also environmentally friendly,” he added.

Kang said it was vital for SMEs to upgrade and improve themselves, adding that some members had slowly started taking proactive measures to face such challenges.

In 2014, Selangor was among the states that was hit by the worst water crisis since 1998. With dam levels falling to critical levels, water rationing was imposed in the Klang Valley. Businesses were also affected badly due to the water shortage.