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A dampener for Greater KL

by October 18, 2016 General

PETALING JAYA: Greater Kuala Lumpur ranks poorly in terms of the sustainability of its water-related infrastructure, coming in at 37th place among 50 global cities assessed under the Sustainable Cities Water Index.

The inaugural index by global engineering firm Arcadis rated Singapore at 22nd, Seoul 23rd, Tokyo 26th and Hong Kong 30th.

Poor sanitation and insufficient treatment of wastewater pushed many Asian cities near the bottom such as Manila 48th, Mumbai 49th and New Delhi 50th.

European cities topped the list, with Rotterdam at first place.

According to John Batten, Arcadis global director for water, many cities still think their responsibility hinges mainly on the provision of clean water or the quality aspect.

“This has been the classic approach to water, but we are trying to drive the discussion to another level,” he told The Star.

“What burgeoning cities need to look at is network efficiency.

“Cities need to effectively manage their water supply network in a cost-effective and responsible way.

“This includes preventing leakage, managing non-revenue water, recovery cost of providing water or what is known as the full cost recovery model.

“And they need to make sure they demonstrate continuity in providing water,” said Batten.

Kuala Lumpur is glaringly weak in the “resilience” area that contributed to its low ranking.

The city can fluctuate from abundance (flash floods) to scarcity (low levels at dams) all within the same year.

“We spent a few days in KL, and saw some really intense downpours,” said Batten, adding that it is time to focus on making Kuala Lumpur a “sponge city”.

A sponge city is designed to soak up peak flows and store them in aesthetically constructed facilities for future reuse.

“Being a sponge city helps a city maintain that balance between abundance and scarcity, and could help Kuala Lumpur to better withstand natural disasters, unforseen shortages, and respond in a positive way.

“The keyword is recovery. Having sponge-like qualities helps in quicker recoveries, while helping restore some aesthetic value to the city,” said Batten, who proposes that water issues fall into three simple buckets of quality, efficiency and resiliency.

“Lots of cities are only focused on one. But it is only by looking at all three that cities become sustainable,” he said.

For the complete index, go to The full story can be read in today’s Star2.