Water is an essential component for sustaining life. Commonly, water source originates from surface sources such as rivers and lakes, or underground sources. Water is a significant input to various industries such as agriculture, industry, energy, transport, etc. This shows the water is essential in daily life. With the increasing population globally, the need for water is growing daily. Still, the world’s freshwater resources are finite. Malaysia has 189 river basins which are 89 located in Peninsular Malaysia, 77 in Sabah and 22 in Sarawak, and all the rivers’ basins come and run from the highlands (WWF Malaysia, 2021).
Malaysia is facing water issues. Even it is not the biggest problem at this moment, it can be worsened in the next few years if some precautions are not be taken from onwards. Plus, the hydrologists warn that a water crisis could occur in 2025 (NST, 2021). Thus, sustainable management of our water supply should be taken seriously. This could extend the ability of water resources to supply water, including interstate water transfer, new treatment plants and replacement of pipes that will boost and raise the range of water supply. However, this idea will not be sustained if one of the main factors contributing to water source pollution cannot be tackled. This is referred to people’s behaviors towards our environment.
Sustain Our Water through Awareness!
Awareness of the importance of keeping our water resources clean still lacks among the public. People do not know the ‘root’ of our water supply. Where is our pipe water coming from? Is the water source being pump directly to our houses? Is rainwater being our main water supply? Do any water treatment is applied? These kinds of questions look simple but critical in creating a healthy mindset and challenge today’s issues on reducing water pollution. Focus directly on the main source of water pollution will help us mitigate this issue in the long term.
Reaching out to the public while asking or forcing them to stop polluting our water was widely done throughout the years. Social work in cleaning water sources, compound payment to the offender, and campaigns on saving our water have been practiced actively through social media. The education sector can also play an essential role in spreading this awareness program by transferring the basic knowledge to the public, especially the younger generation.
“Don’t forget to save water, otherwise, water will forget you one day“
One of the approaches that could be applied is sustainable education, whereby the educators can create a friendly medium or tool to guide and assist the public in understanding the vital of protecting our water source. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and the local authorities have also been conducting community’s sustainability awareness programs or initiatives for the past few years.
Among them was the ‘Green Science for the Community’, with the collaboration between Majlis Bandaraya Iskandar Puteri (MBIP), ThinkCity, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering, and the Student College Committee of Kolej Tun Razak, using interactive educational activities to sustain people, communities and ecosystems. The program also focused on awareness and empowering the community on the issue of river pollution which is in line with the Skudai River Conservation Plan, carried out by MBIP since early 2018.https://science.utm.my/
Several activities carried out on the day involved water source, water quality analysis and treatment technology, garden sustainability, biocompost fertilizer, solar technology, as well as science learning through environmental resources. During the program, UTM students also volunteered to handle events and participated in gotong-royong activities to clean the flat area with the local community. The program received positive feedback from the local community on the need and importance of improving their residential ecosystems with the proposed projects.
Innovative Sustainable Education
On saving our water source, one of the sustainable education innovations implemented was the pictorial posters uncovering where our water source is coming from. Afterwards, the exposure to the basic water treatment process which will explain further the importance of why a ‘healthy’ water source played an important role in sustaining our treatment system. To maintain the physical, chemical and biological integrity of our nation’s water, the work of protecting our water source should be highlighted such as focusing on tackling the main source of water pollution and engaging the public to nurture a ‘durable’ mindset and behavior in the long term.
Therefore, a deeper and systemic learning response needs to happen in three main areas: personal, organizational and the community (social learning beyond formal education). It is noticeable that the most challenging area is a change in the institution and organization, thus, taking realizable and practicable steps in our own working contexts is vital. In essence, what we all are engaged in here is a critically important ‘learning about learning’ process, one which will directly affect the chances of a more sustainable future for all.
Mazidi Abd Ghani (2021). Freshwater. https://www.wwf.org.my/our_work/freshwater/
Audrey Dermawan (2021). CAP expresses concern over threats to Malaysia’s water resources. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/03/675752/cap-expresses-concern-over-threats-malaysias-water-resources
Sterling, S. (2008). Sustainable education-towards a deep learning response to unsustainability. Policy & Practice-A Development Education Review, (6)./ Faculty of Civil Engineering