Always a challenge and opportunity in Malaysia water R&D – Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Yusop

JOHOR BAHRU, 14 August 2019 – There are always a challenges and opportunity in water Research and Developments (R&D) in Malaysia as the need of this natural resources always emerges from time to time.
Water researchers in Malaysia also should put all the efforts to reduce water pollution which is currently threatening this valuable resources.
A water expert from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Water Security (IPASA), Prof. Dr. Zulkifli Yusop said that the current trend of water pollution in Malaysia is based on two elements.
“The elements of pollution is divided into two elements which are Point Source Pollution (PS) and Non-Point Source Pollution (NPS).
“The PS type of pollution comes from the industrial wastage such as factories and treatment plants while the NPS polluted the waters using the waste originated from the Land-use activities and urban run-off,” said Prof. Zulkifli.
Prof. Zulkifli said all of that in his speech at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) Fellow Science Forum : Science For Universal Well-Being and Prosperity which was held at the Senate Hall, Sultan Ibrahim Chancellery Building of UTM Johor Bahru campus.
Also participating in the forum were Prof. Dr. Mazlan Hashim from the Research Institute for Sustainable Environment (RISE) and Prof. Ir. Dr. Nor Aishah Saidina Amin from the School of Chemical and Energy Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.
The forum was moderated by Dr. Abdullah Mohd. Nawi from the Language Academy, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities.
Elaborating his points, Prof. Zulkifli said that the NPS is hydrologically triggered by rainfall and overland flow.
“The major contributors are land developments, construction, agricultural and farming and also forestry activities. In many developed countries, water pollution is still a problem after all point sources had been eliminated.
“The NPS type of water and environmental pollution is actually difficult to control since it involves a large composition of communities with low level of education,” he said.
Prof. Zulkifli also highlighted about the trend in water and wastewater treatment technology which is currently applied in Malaysia in which according to him always dependent on authority requirements and low cost.
“The examples of current emerging technology in water treatment are Membrane Technology, Nutrient and Materials Recovery and Energy Recovery.
“The utilization of membrane technology is more efficient since it uses cheaper materials and Forward Osmosis is one of them. The method of Nutrient and Materials Recovery followed by Energy Recovery are quite expensive,” he said.

To sustain this valuable resources,  ASM has come up with two conclusions namely sustain the existing opportunity (sustaining resources) and create New Wealth and Wellness.
“For the Creating the New Wealth, ASM has suggested 10 steps to be taken by the government namely Eco-Tourism around high ecological value sites, Urban Water-based tourism, market and export high quality water, Clean water for the aquaculture industry and Malaysian brand of domestic water purification units.
“ASM  has also suggested a few options such as Malaysia build a World leading tropical aquatic research and education centre, Knowledge export, Tap urban water, Harvest the rainwater and Zero pollutant discharge,” said Prof. Zulkifli.

For the purpose of sustaining the resources, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia has put forward 10 steps to be taken namely Exploit the groundwater resource up to 20 percent, Improve flood forecasting and mitigation, Reform water education system, Improve ecosystem from PS and NPS pollution and Clean-up and rehabilitate waterways in highly visible positions.
“More steps also should be taken beginning from now such as Improve irrigation water use efficiency, Ecosystem services values, Advanced water and wastewater treatment, Build Wetland ecosystem repair/restoration system and establish water management plan to improve resilience with uncertain future,” said Prof. Zulkifli.
Before ending his speech, Prof. Zulkifli also stated eight potential Water Research Prioritization Criteria that can be explored by future Malaysian water researchers.
“The criteria that I am suggesting to our researchers to explore are Market Potential, Wealth Creation, Potential for Sustaining Resources, Competitive Advantage, Urgency for Solutions, Long Term Planning, Global Future Direction and Development of Expertise,” he said.

Prof. Zulkifli giving his speech at Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) Fellow Science Forum : Science For Universal Well-Being and Prosperity.