SHAH ALAM: Malaysia has five trillion cubic metres of groundwater reserves but only a minute fraction of it is being used.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar (pic) said groundwater makes up less than 3% of the water supply in Malaysia with the bulk of the nation's supply coming from surface water.

Dr Xavier said, in his speech at the National Groundwater Conference 2019 here Tuesday (July 2), that the two states using large amounts of groundwater were Kelantan and Selangor.

"Now, let us compare our groundwater utilisation with other countries around the globe.

"Denmark has 100% groundwater utilisation, Austria 98%, Thailand 80%, China 78%, the United States 50% but Malaysia has less than 3%," said Dr Xavier.

According to Dr Xavier, groundwater resources in Malaysia face many serious problems that relate to the absence of an adaptive and comprehensive management.

He added crucial issues that must be addressed in groundwater management were fragmented policy; legal and governance framework; pollution; lack of sustained research and development; manpower and human resources issues; resource data collection; management and dissemination as well as public awareness and stakeholder participation.

"It is therefore very clear that for Malaysia to make use of its vast amount of groundwater, these issues must be faced, and effective and sustainable solutions found," he said.

Dr Xavier said he strongly believed the prudent use of groundwater can meet the national water requirements as well as reduce the impact of drought in urban and rural environments.

"It is anticipated that more groundwater will be used in urban and rural areas for domestic, agriculture and industrial needs," he added.