The cost of flood vs prevention

Posted On 15/01/2007

Filed under Food for thoughts

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Cost of flood

Some has calculate the round 1 flood cause Johor 100 millions of losses on private properties and public facilities. I am quite skeptic about the over optimistic figures. In fact, this figure is not viable since it does not count the retails/trade economy losses, which might account for another 100 millions. And this haven’t account the losses of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) that take a big U-turn to invest in Johor state, although the planned economy region locate 50KM away from the flood area, the altitude of the administration is enough to chill the investor.

Besides the economy losses, the flood that displace more than 100,000 has cause a huge problem on relief resources distribution. Using a conservative calculation, a single day meal for the flood victim will easily cost around RM300,000. Putting in the cost of basic needs, medical, half of millions ringgits will be used up for a single day.

Is the flood preventable?

People will argue that the rain is the major cause of the flood and prevention is no possible. I doubt to be different.

Firstly, the rain haven’t reach the worst level compare to the big flood 100 years ago.

Secondly, the state and federal government are millions times more resourceful than Johor state empire 100 years ago.

Thirdly, communication is not a problem for people around this century.
Flood Prevention from the root

Many people will think the cost of prevention will run hundreds of millions. Yes, it might cost hundred millions if the government use a one-way thinking. The previous example of government “development” has show us that, such “putting all the eggs in a single basket” will not work for ever growing population. The flood prevention should go into “commodity” level. When any land is develop, a replacement plan will be accounted for buffering the rain water that the nature land that will hold before development. For example, when 1 km square (1km x 1km ) is develop/clear, the developer/plantation owner must install 400 cubic meter of rain water collection tank; install 800 cubic meters collection tanks for 2kmx2km area, vice versa. For plantation, the drainage must be redirect to the rain water collection tank; terrace housing/properties project, the collection tanks can be distribute to multiple building.

Some might ditch the idea of as it is insignificant compare to the costly flood control system. But the scalability of such “compound” rain retention system is much superior then fixation river bed widening, mega rain reservoir (such as SMART in Kuala Lumour). Using the above example, a 6.25km square area of tank are able to retain 1 Olympic size swimming pool of water. (An Olympic Pool must be 25 m wide with a depth of 2.0 m (min) at all parts of the course and must be 50 m in length, to fill in 2.5 millions cubic liters or 2,500 cubic meters of water).

This system is can be apply immediately compare to the mega cost “flood control system”. Local or federal the government can promote the collection tank installation(A 1 cubic meter water tanks will cost around RM500, ironically comparable to the “RM500 one time relief handover”) with tax rebate incentive; annual properties tax rebates,etc. Taking the current flood area as example, with 100,000 of displace people, estimate each families with 6 members, there will be 15,000 families. Should each of this families install 1 cubic meters of rain collection tank, 6 Olympic swimming of rain water is retained. Don’t forget that this exclude people that living in high land or high rise building unaffected by the flood.

The whole system will scale according to the land excavated, thus, the government just need to allocate incentive according to the growth.
4 cubic meter of water

Water is source of all life. But many people underestimated the cumulative power of water. From the picture, 4 cubics meter of water is spread around 2×2 meters area, it can submerge a 1.8 meters tall person till the waist level. (Diagram made using free edition of Google Sketchup )

Should have the government implement the rain water retention system earlier, “bowl of water” condition can be avoided. And the country will not suffer quarter billions ringgit of economy and production losses. It is never too late to implement the system, but will the people listen. I will cross my finger.

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