Regulatory framework for drinking water, wastewater discharge and reuse
Responsibility for setting and implementing water and wastewater quality regulations is shared between the federal and state levels in Malaysia. The federal government gives the overall policy direction and sets standards while the state governments play the leading role in implementation and more generally in the management of river basins and catchments.
Drinking water quality regulations
The National Standard for Drinking Water Quality (NSDWQ) is published by the Engineering Services Division of the MOH and sets guidelines for water supply quality and monitoring frequency (prior to the NSDWQ, the first National Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality had been established by the MOH in 1983 and revised in 1989). The NSDWQ came into effect in 2000, taking into account the 3rd edition of the WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, and was updated in 2004. The NSDWQ is currently in the process of being updated once again and the new standards are expected to be introduced early in 2012.
Municipal and industrial wastewater quality regulations
Issues relating to the quality of the water environment have been magnified in the policy agenda in Malaysia in the last decades because some parts of the country have started to experience shortages of clean water for household and industrial use. This is particularly the situation in the region surrounding the capital, Kuala Lumpur. The DOE therefore introduced stricter standards for discharges from wastewater treatment and industrial facilities in 2009 to replace the original standards set in 1979. Details of these are given in the following sections.
Water reuse regulations
Malaysia currently has no standards specifically for water reuse. As Malaysia is comparatively rich in water resources and over 90% of water supply comes from surface water sources, the drivers for the introduction of water reuse facilities are weak. The only part of the country in which water resource scarcity may be an issue in the future is the densely populated capital region. Long-distance transfer projects, NRW reduction and demand management are likely to be less costly options than reuse.
Water in industry: Oil & Gas
Oil and gas production contributed approximately 13% of the country’s GDP in 2010, equivalent to about MYR 68.3 billion ($22.6 billion), making it the most important industry in terms of contribution to GDP as well as the largest contributor to government revenues. Malaysia expects to experience further growth in the industry in the coming years as the government seeks to increase withdrawals from the existing oil fields as well as newer offshore sites.
Future regulatory scenario and conclusions
Malaysia’s water sector is undergoing substantial changes under the WSIA of 2006 which provides for an important transfer of responsibility for water supply infrastructure from the state to the federal level and the creation of a national level regulatory agency. However, the legislation has taken considerably longer to implement than expected and the process of transfer of assets is still not complete as of mid-2011. The federal government expects that the process can be completed in 2012, but political issues may hold implementation up longer in states where opposition parties are in power.
List of laws, standards and policies