Next dry spell? Firms aim to flush out water woes

Next dry spell? Firms aim to flush out water woes
Several men walking outside the additional water tanks installed at Renesas Semiconductor, a Japanese semiconductor company in Banting, Selangor.

SINGAPORE - A Japanese semiconductor company in Selangor has just spent RM50,000 (S$19,500) to install additional water tanks at the back of the factory, to ensure it can continue to operate if another water shortage occurs later this year as widely predicted.

Renesas Semiconductor - which makes semiconductors for Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi, among others - is taking no chances as weather experts expect the El Nino dry weather phenomenon to hit the region starting in July.

It now has water tanks with a total of 1.388 million litres capacity - enough to fill half an Olympic-size swimming pool - adding to the one million litres of water that Renesas uses daily. "Even if our deliveries were to just slow down, our customers will lose confidence. Simple as that," Mr Zulkifly Abdul Rahman, the company's spokesman told The Straits Times.

The company is among the businesses and individuals who are preparing for the next spell of dry weather, with bitter lessons learnt from the February to April water-rationing crisis that hit the vast districts called Greater Kuala Lumpur - encompassing parts of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya - as rivers shrank and dam levels dropped sharply.

Greater KL is Malaysia's most industrialised area and its most populous with some six million people.

In Petaling Jaya, the popular Kayu Nasi Kandar restaurant chain has just installed large plastic water tanks at all its 10 outlets at a total cost of RM15,000 to prepare for the dry weather, after struggling to ensure sufficient supply during the recent water rationing, says owner Burhan Mohamed.

"We are fully prepared because in this business if your cleanliness is suspect, you're finished," he told The Straits Times, adding that a restaurant relied heavily on word of mouth to stay competitive.

The severity of the coming El Nino, which creates warm and dry spells that could last for months, is being debated. But not its arrival in Malaysia in the second half of the year.

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