Water Security for Business Continuity
Water security, which is defined by the United Nations as the population’s capacity to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water, is critical for many reasons.
Besides sustaining life, water security sustains livelihoods, human well-being and socio-economic development; ensures protection against waterborne pollution and water-related disasters and preserves ecosystems.
On a global scale, if water continues to be consumed at its current unsustainable rate, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages.
The water disruption incidents in the Klang Valley on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in 2022 are stark reminders that even Malaysia – blessed with abundant rainfall and natural water resources – is not exempt from water security issues.
Creating sustainable water supply
Sunway recognises that consistent water supply is necessary for its businesses to operate efficiently, especially for the Group’s managed properties and industrial sites that are water intensive.
True to the Malay proverb of “Sediakan payung sebelum hujan”, Sunway has managed to ensure business continuity throughout multiple water disruptions in the Klang Valley in recent years, thanks to ongoing water security measures that were already in place.
A critical component in safeguarding water security at Sunway is via its water treatment plant at Sunway South Quay Lake, which can supply up to 8.5 million litres of water daily – enough to provide drinking water for 51,500 people.
By treating and recycling lake water to produce potable drinking water, the water treatment plant has played an essential role in reducing Sunway’s reliance on municipal water supply by nearly 30 percent.
This is important, given that Sunway’s total water consumption in 2019 was at 5.5 billion litres. While the number sharply decreased to around 3.4 billion litres in 2021 due to the government’s Movement Control Order, it has since rebounded to around 4.6 billion litres in 2022.
Currently, all Sunway’s managed properties in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur are piped to the water treatment plant, ensuring a continuous water supply even during a water cut.
Sunway South Quay and Sunway Lagoon lakes both serve as water catchment areas for Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, receiving between 230 million to two billion litres of water a year.
This is an important role in storm water management as the lakes retain surface run-off during heavy rainfall and mitigate the risk of flooding.
Promoting smarter, more efficient use of water
Being recognised as Malaysia’s first sustainable township by Green Building Index (GBI), with certified GreenRE buildings throughout, demonstrates the credibility of Sunway’s water efficiency features and measures in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur.
Buildings that are GBI and GreenRE certified are reassessed every three years to maintain their certification, which recognises sustained performance in the buildings’ green design and features. Water efficiency is a key criterion for both GBI and GreenRE certification.
For instance, in times of water disruptions, Sunway Malls immediately decreases the number of operating toilets, switches off the pressure pumps to reduce flushing volume, and reduces air conditioning capacity at the malls to lower water consumption of the cooling towers.
Water-intensive activities at the mall such as the cleaning of loading bays and air-conditioning equipment servicing are rescheduled to a later date.
To conserve water among end-users, Sunway’s properties are equipped with water-saving fittings such as sensor taps and new faucets.
Meanwhile, rainwater harvesting systems installed at some of Sunway’s managed properties reduce dependency on potable (drinkable) water for non-essential usage such as cleaning outdoor areas, landscape maintenance and flushing toilets.
This prevents water wastage and reduces Sunway’s dependency on municipal water supply.
With Sunway aiming to achieve green building certification for all its owned buildings and townships from 2025 onwards, the group is on track to achieve its water efficiency goals by 2030.
Strengthening water security efforts
As Sunway is fully committed to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework, which means prioritising risk management, including water-related risks, the conglomerate recognises the potential cost to business without water security.
All Sunway-managed properties are required to have a Water Crisis Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which details the emergency response process flow during a water disruption.
The Water Crisis SOP’s key aim is to ensure that concrete steps are established to reduce wastage and optimise efficient usage in the event water supply is disrupted.
The SOP also records vital information such as the capacity of tanks, and how long the water supply would last during a disruption.
The emergency process flow was tailored according to various scenarios using variables, such as duration of water cuts and the building occupancy rate, to determine the areas where taps are to be turned off.
With the development of the SOP, Sunway was able to conduct a scenario analysis to further develop a more detailed and robust action plan that would ensure heightened water security among Sunway properties in the Klang Valley.
This scenario analysis found that in the unlikely event that the water treatment plant in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur break down during a municipal water cut disruption, there are seven properties within the township that can continue operating without water supply disruptions between one to four days.
Sunway is also in the process of ensuring that all its other managed properties in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur can extend their capacity to store at least one day’s worth of supply in their water tanks.
As for non-Sunway City Kuala Lumpur properties in the Klang Valley, a water tanker with a capacity to store 15,000 litre of water is on standby to be deployed during a municipal water disruption to provide water security.
The priority for water tanker deployment is then determined based on how long each property can last during a water cut. Currently, out of 14 non-Sunway City Kuala Lumpur-managed assets in the Klang Valley, four can last less than a day, three assets can hold out for one to two days while another seven can last beyond two days.
Ultimately, Sunway aims to achieve at least five days of uninterrupted water supply from the onset of a water disruption event by 2030.
Moving forward, the group’s 2030 water targets will be monitored and tracked by the respective business divisions.
Sunway’s water targets are to reduce overall water intensity of managed properties by 10 percent by 2030, to reduce reliance on municipal water supply by up to 50 percent through investment in alternative supplies and sources, as well as to achieve five days of uninterrupted water supply from the onset of a water disruption event for all its properties located within Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by 2030.
Sunway’s water efficiency and water security efforts are an embodiment of the Group’s commitment towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Given the global scale of water security issues, one company’s effort may seem like a drop in the ocean, but all it takes is for one drop to create a ripple effect and spark lasting change in our society.
This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 77