Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Estimation of Willingness to Pay for Wastewater Treatment Service Improvement in Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Estimation of Willingness to Pay for Wastewater Treatment Service Improvement in Malaysia

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Malaysia's population is increasing rapidly and will reach 32 million in 2020 (Lo & Leow, 2014). As population increases, so does the production of wastewater and the number of number of people vulnerable to the impacts of severe wastewater pollution. Household wastewater treatment services have become a major challenge for Malaysia, due to the fragmented management plans as well as increasing awareness on environmental quality and better education on public health. Wastewater from household may contain harmful dissolved or suspended matter and unregulated discharge of wastewater undermines biological diversity, natural resilience and the capacity of the ecology to provide fundamental ecosystem services. The Malaysian government is currently deliberating on improving the quality of household wastewater treatment services. However, any improvements would likely entail higher sewerage charges to households. This study estimates environmental awareness, household attitude and perceptions of household in aspect of water use, wastewater treatment and services in Malaysia as well as their willingness to pay to obtain such improvements.

Indah Water Konsortium, is Malaysia's national sewerage company which has been entrusted with the task of developing and maintaining a modern and efficient sewerage system for all Malaysians. A modern and efficient sewerage system is vital for the country so as to ensure that wastewater is treated before being discharged into our rivers. This will help preserve the country's waste resources, protect public health and provide a cleaner and safer environment. Therefore, this study focused on willingness to pay for wastewater treatment service improvement in Malaysia especially in Selangor due to high population rate.

The enforcement of the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) in 1974 shows that the water quality of Malaysian inland water especially rivers is following a deteriorating trend. The rivers are mainly polluted due to the point and nonpoint pollution sources. Point sources are monitored and controlled by the Department of Environment (DOE), whereas a significant amount of pollutants is contributed by both untreated wastewater and storm runoff. Therefore some bold steps needed for the effective control of non-point source pollution and untreated wastewater discharge, which play significant roles on the status of the rivers. However, Mamun and Zainuddin (2013) stated that the new regulation for sewage and industrial effluent limits set allowable NH3-N concentration quite high (5 mg/L), which may result in low Water Quality Index (WQI) values for the river water. The water environment is a dynamic system. Periodical review of the monitoring requirements, detecting emerging pollutants in sewage, effluent and runoff, and proper revision of water quality standards are essential for the management of sustainable water resources, in the country.

Furthermore, the standard economic models assume that producers conclude economic decisions based on profit maximization (Tang et al. 2013). One disadvantage of these models is that they neglect psychological and sociological factors, which also affect economic behavior. Specifically, Folmer (2009) argues that human behavior, including economic behavior, is strongly influenced by awareness, perceptions, expectations and habits. Weck-Hannemann and Frey (1995) argue that intrinsic motivation and internal sanctions promote environmentally-friendly behavior. Intrinsic motivation and internal sanctions in their turn strongly depend on environmental awareness and perception, which perception, which thus determine attitudes that affect future behaviors (Bayard and Jolly, 2007). Hence, to understand household demand for water consumptions and wastewater treatment services, insight into their awareness, attitudes and perception of the problem is a prerequisite for the development of adequate and effective policy handles. Awareness, attitudes and perception selected as reflective because they are psychological constructs that determine the indicators such that a change of perception, attitudes or awareness leads to changes in household's willingness to pay for sewerage service improvement and also households' responses to the measurement questions. …

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