Quest to Solve Water Scarcity

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNDP), water shortage is one of the two major environmental issues facing the world today. Despite Malaysia being a country with high rainfall intensity, a growing area of concern is freshwater scarcity.

Dr Poh Phaik Eong, a Chemical Engineering lecturer in the School of Engineering shared that this scarcity in water is attributed to the industrialisation, population growth, urbanisation and climate change, all of which are happening within the country.

Collaborating with BACFREE to find a sustainable solution to water scarcity

Collaborating with BACFREE to find a sustainable solution to water scarcity.

(L-R Dr Zalina Shari, Chair of Education Committee, Malaysia Green Building Confederation; Dr Chee Chung Yee, Technical Director of BACFREE; Professor Helen Bartlett, PVC of Monash University Malaysia; and Professor Anthony Guo, Head of School of Engineering, Monash University Malaysia)

“With the recent water rationing exercise which affected the Klang Valley, instead of depending on drastic measures to cope with water shortage in the country, this has highlighted the urgency in finding a sustainable solution to water scarcity,” said Dr Poh, who also leads a team of researchers to study the effectiveness of a two-stage filtration and ozonation system for greywater treatment.

In light of this, a collaborative research agreement in the area of greywater treatment and reuse was signed recently, between Monash University Malaysia and Bacteria Free Water Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd (BACFREE), a design and consulting company which provides solutions to domestic, commercial and industrial water and wastewater treatment.

“Universities cannot work in isolation. For knowledge transfer and application to real-life issues to happen, we must partner with industry specialists. This collaboration is more than a piece of paper. It cements work that is underway, work which hones in on priority issues in today’s environment. The outcome of this research is also extremely relevant to solve the existing water shortage issue in Malaysia,” shared Professor Helen Bartlett, Pro Vice Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia.

This 3-month research collaboration will provide insights on operating conditions to produce treated greywater that is suitable for non-potable reuse.

“This research is a timely one as the building industry evolves to adopt more green features and also the pressing need to ensure that our growth model is a sustainable one. The outcome of the research will greatly enhance our understanding of grey water harvesting, which in turn will improve and optimise our Greywater Harvesting System (GWHS) design,” said Dr Chee Chung Yee, Technical Director of BACFREE.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Zalina Shari, Board Member of Malaysia Green Building Confederation (MGBC) shared her pleasure and noted that this collaboration marked a significant milestone in Malaysia’s green building technology research road map.

“In Malaysia, urban homes have been using far more water than the United Nation’s recommendation of 200 litres per household. Research reveals that a typical Malaysian household uses 500 litres of water daily, compared to the 155 litres in Singapore and 90 litres in Thailand. With the water crisis and subsequent rationing exercise, Malaysians have to finally face the fact that water is indeed a scarce resource,” said Dr Zalina. 

“Therefore, this research collaboration, which aims to improve the quality of treated greywater and collected rainwater, is considered highly important, relevant and timely. This will in turn contribute to the enhancement of national capability and capacity for innovation in the development of green technology,” she continued.

The agreement was signed by the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia, Professor Helen Bartlett and the Technical Director of BACFREE, Dr. Chee Chung Yee; witnessed by the Head of School of Engineering and Information Technology, Prof. Anthony Guo and Board Member of Malaysia Green Building Confederation (MGBC), Dr  Zalina Shari.