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Water Treatment Process Options for Gravity-Feed System of Rural Water Supply Scheme in Western Sarawak

Shakeran, Mohamad Sabari (2004) Water Treatment Process Options for Gravity-Feed System of Rural Water Supply Scheme in Western Sarawak. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Water resource is abundant in Malaysia. The renewable water resource from both surface water and groundwater is about 630 billion cubic meters. About 97 percent of the rivers in Malaysia are abstracted for public water supplies. This contributes to the establishment of 487 water treatment plant intake points in Peninsular Malaysia and 91 in Sarawak. The number does not include the number of water treatment plants established in the State of Sabah.

Nevertheless, the nation aspiration of overarching vision 2020 to achieve the fully developed nation status has caused impacts to the national water resources because of the rapid pace of socio-economic development. The stakeholders have started expressing their concern on the issues of freshwater scarcity because of apparent degradation in water quality standard. Furthermore, the land-use developments have extended into the rural areas to exploit the natural resources for economic purposes. Consequently, the pollutions generated from unregulated development activities have caused environmental impacts and scarcity of freshwater sources from designated water supply catchment areas.

Since the urban populations are getting their water sources from major river basins, which are larger, the populations living in remote rural areas are experiencing the opposite. In the State of Sarawak, 60 percent of the population are living in the remote rural areas. They get their water supply from freshwater sources that come from smaller water catchments provided by the State Health Department, known as the gravity-feed water catchment.

In this regard, only designated first-priority water catchments with sources that comply with the requirement of the drinking water quality standards as well as passing the catchment sanitary survey are chosen for development as gravity-feed systems. Because of the high raw water quality, the villages are supplied with these sources as their drinking water, through piped-gravity water without the provision of any basic treatment. The communities are only advised to boil their water for safety reasons. The State Health Department carries out routine drinking water quality surveillance programmes to monitor the water quality from the gravity-feed systems. In 2002, there are 2,730 gravity-feed system established in Sarawak.These gravity-feed systems are developed by the State Health Department.

The purpose of this study is to determine the conditions of raw water quality from various State Health Department gravity-feed systems as of whether these raw waters are still safe as drinking water for the rural populations. Due to some constraints and limitations, only water quality data from selected water catchments in three districts of Western Sarawak, namely, Lundu, Serian and Betong are used for the study. In addition, the study is trying to determine the best available solution to overcome the water quality problems by finding a feasible and economical water treatment process options to enhance existing practice adopted by the State Health Department for the rural water supply.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Ho, Goen and Mathew, Kuruvilla
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