Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The Star 3 April, 2014
The Star columnist Anthony Thanasagan's article drew attention to the hardship of the elderly and the disabled. They are among the most vulnerable groups affected by the current water crisis. Now into its second month, the situation shows no sign of improving despite the almost daily rainfall which the authorities claim 'doesn't fall in the catchment area'.

I recall during the last water rationing, I had to carry pails of water up three flights of stairs to my walk-up apartment to fill the containers so that my mom and I could have water to drink, cook, bathe and flush. It was certainly a strain on the muscles and on the heart. My colleague at the time told me that the residents in her condo apartments had to resort to drawing water from their swimming pool!

The images below highlight the plight of the elderly, especially those living alone in walk-up apartments. They don't have the strength to lift large pails of water, much less carry them all the way up to their apartments. They will have to rely on help from their younger neighbours.

The elderly coping with the back-breaking chore of carrying water to their homes. Source:Internet images)

What about the elderly in nursing homes and similar establishments? I received a distress call two days ago from my mom's Homecare Centre in Tanjong Panglima Garang, Klang. The nurse manager was in panic mode. The taps had gone dry. With 15 elderly residents to look after, she was understandably concerned about ensuring there was sufficient water to maintain hygienic standards for the activities of daily living (ADLs). The centre's proposed solution was to request family members to take their mother home until the water situation improved.

Lugging heavy pails of water from the supply tanker to the Homecare centre. Backbreaking even for the young staff.

We all share the frustration expressed in this letter below published in The Star on 8 April. Prolonged dry season aside, we should not be experiencing such a critical water crisis. We live in the equatorial zone where there is rain all year round, even during the 'dry' inter-monsoon season. It's poor water management and conservation, plus politics that has left the entire country in the throes of water woes.

The Star 8 April 2014

Taking showers is a luxury now. It's back to mandi kerbau, limiting the number of scoops of water for each family member. The other day I had to sparingly use mineral water to brush my teeth and wash my face, as I had completely run out of water at home. I also had to fill the water cistern with bottles of mineral water in order to flush after using the toilet. An expensive flush indeed!

Those with big families and those who depend on a regular supply of water to run their business must be facing daily challenges making sure there is sufficient water supply for their needs. But some areas in the Klang Valley are assured of water 24/7. These areas, according to the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) are:

  • Putrajaya (Federal govt administrative centre)
  • Shah Alam (Selangor state govt administrative centre)
  • KL City Centre
  • KL International Airport (KLIA)
  • Subang Airport
  • Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ)
  • free trading zones
  • hospitals (public & private)
  • dialysis centres

Similar notices like this one are pasted in condominiums as a reminder to the residents. (Source: Straits Times)

To date, more than 700,000 households comprising 2.5 million people are affected. The number is expected to increase when water rationing is extended to other parts of the country.

Teaching the young to value water
The older generation has lived through water crises before. We have learned to use water sparingly. It is the young ones like our grandchildren who are now learning the importance of conserving water. No more playing with water while taking showers, or letting the water run while brushing their teeth.

It is in times like this that we learn how precious water is. Whatever God or Nature has given us, let us value it, conserve it and appreciate it. Love our environment and care for it.

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