IWK Seeks Collaborators in Shared Vision of Providing New Life for Water

IN LATE September 2019, Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist struck a chord with environmentalists with a zealous delivery of her speech at the Opening of the Climate Action Summit 2019. One thing is certain — climate change is widespread and “will damage economies, devastate populations, deplete resources and dramatically impact the cost of doing business”, according to an opinion piece in a mainstream publication. In tandem with population growth in Malaysia, there is also a growing need to efficient and proper wastewater management.

As the national wastewater company, Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK) embraced the tagline of “New Life for Water” in 2017, not as a publicity stunt but in recognition of the reality in our daily operations and aspirations.

The term “wastewater” does not have to be discarded as waste, but can be given a new life after it is treated. Sewerage management is as essential, if not more, as other utilities crucial in protecting the environment and public health. With close to 26 million customers for our connected services, whose wastewater are channelled to IWK’s almost 7,000 sewage treatment plants, IWK is able to produce 5,092 MLD treated bio-effluent (treated wastewater), equivalent to around 2,000 Olympicsized swimming pools, before they are released in a safe form into the water body — truly a waste since it can be reused. There is much potential for the reclamation of non-revenue water and adoption of treated effluent to supplement the use of water by industries and commercial businesses daily.

Industrial Grade Water for Non-Food Based Industries

With the large amount of bio-effluent that is produced, industries can participate in obtaining the treated bio-effluent for industrial use, easing up reliance on raw water that can be put to better use, ie for human consumption. Moreover, water usage is a fundamental product for nearly every step of the manufacturing and production practises around the world, whether it is used for producing, processing, washing, diluting, cooling or transporting a product.

In view of different levels of water quality requirement by the industries, the company wishes to seek non-food based industries who are keen to purchase industrial grade water to come forward to express their interest. The industries may propose their water quality requirement and daily required volume for their respective production lines. IWK will then study the viability and revert to the respective industries the outcome of the feasibility study. If the viability is deemed successful, IWK will propose the guaranteed volume, water quality and proposed tariff.

This is an effort by IWK, supported by the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources to alternatively develop a new source of water (creation of a new source tap) for non-potable use in this country. The question that begs is where it is used.

Currently, we are working with local authorities in using effluent for landscaping purposes, while in our Pantai 2 Sewage Treatment Plant, 10% of the treated effluent is reused.

The effluent can be distributed by tankers or pipeline for industrial use. If we use bio-effluent as alternative water for non-potable applications, it will free up raw water resources for potable water consumption. This aspiration also stems from the Green Technology Masterplan that encapsulates the elements of sustainable development goals, and translates to the recycling 100% of our bio-solids and a third of our bio-effluent by 2030, which will benefit our environment in the long run.

Treat Fat, Oil and Grease

At the same time, IWK is able to treat fat, oil and grease. All eateries are beholden under the law in subsection (1)(c)(i) and (ii) of Section 72 Local Government Act 1976 (Akta 171), to provide grease trap either individual type or/and communal; maintenance and disposal plan for the grease trap and ensuring the grease trap functioning in good condition. Otherwise, it can be detrimental to environment and operational of business if it is not properly maintained. The blockage in sewer pipe can give rise to river pollution and health and hygiene issues. IWK can help companies to comply with the environmental, social and governance principles as well through this exercise.

IWK would like to invite industries/commercial businesses to come on-board and participate in this exciting journey together with us to create a greener country for the future generation. The reuse of treated bio-effluent, bio-solid and bio-gas is practically proven to be applied by the community and industries as an alternative source to promote zero waste management concept. IWK can be that provider of alternative water source, living up to the guidance of providing new life for water.