Malaysia: Tackle pollution in drainage system first

The Star 25 Jul 16;

PETALING JAYA: River pollution should be tackled upstream where the drains are, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre director Prof Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria.

Dr Nor Azazi said it would be pointless cleaning rivers if drains flowing into them continued to be dirty.

“There needs to be a sustainable design to trap and collect rubbish from flowing downstream. Clean drains mean clean rivers.

“The Government has also spent so much to maintain our rivers and to collect rubbish. We need to re-look our enforcement measures to overcome this.

“If rubbish keeps being dumped into drains and rivers, it would affect a river’s stability – the riverbed, river capacity and equilibrium would all be influenced adversely.

“Secondly, it will also affect water supply downstream and the aquatic life in the river,” he said.

Dr Nor Azizi said it was high time the Government seriously considered including the environment in the school curriculum, starting from the lower levels.

He said that awareness programmes such as the “Love Our River” campaign need to be run professionally to ensure they can be measured and improved on.

The “Love Our River” campaign is carried out by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) to encourage public awareness, empathy and care for rivers and includes concerted efforts to clean up rivers nationwide.

It was launched in 1993 to educate the public on the importance of rivers and the environment while highlighting the critical state of pollution of the rivers.

The Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 2014 showed that based on the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, 186 rivers (39%) were slightly polluted and 43 rivers (9%) were polluted in 2014.

This is an increase of the 173 rivers (36.6%) slightly polluted and 25 polluted rivers (5.3%) the previous year.

An average of 2,200 tonnes pollute rivers monthly despite campaigns
MANJIT KAUR The Star 25 Jul 16;

IPOH: Every second, someone is dumping rubbish into Malaysian waterways and an average of 2,200 tonnes of rubbish is being collected every month from traps built across rivers in the country.

In just the upper part of Sungai Klang, which includes Sungai Gombak and Sungai Batu, a total of 21 tonnes of rubbish is collected monthly.

The rubbish is collected from 11 trash screens built across rivers, and from 500 gross pollutant traps built in drains to prevent rubbish from flowing into rivers.

“This means that every day, people along the upper areas of Sungai Klang are throwing 700kg of rubbish into drains and rivers,” said Malaysian Water Partnership (MyWP) vice-chairman Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor.

“Despite numerous programmes and campaigns by the authorities, including the ‘Love Our River’ campaign launched more than 10 years ago, not much progress has been achieved,” he said in an interview.

“The campaign was to create public awareness and sensitivity towards the need for cleaner rivers. Yet, the responsibility is always left to the authorities without much support from the people,” he said.

Hanapi, who is a former DID River Basin Management Division director, said Sungai Klang was not the most polluted river but still significant as it flows into the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

Malaysians, he said, must understand that trash thrown onto roads or other public spaces would end up in the drains and rivers after the rain.

Hanafi said adequate funding for maintenance of drains and preservation of rivers had always been a problem.

The cleaning of rivers was not a one-off programme but should be carried out throughout the year, he said, adding that this meant that there was a need for an annual budget of about RM100mil yearly to clean the rivers in Malaysia.

As for the laws, he said they were adequate in dealing with litterbugs but there was a lack of enforcement.

“Singapore is seen to be successful in maintaining a cleaner environment, including the drains and rivers due to its strict enforcement of laws,” he said.

In Malaysia, he said 97% of water used for domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes came from surface water in rivers and reservoirs.

Hanapi cautioned that water supply to users would be affected if rivers were seriously polluted, since the upper section of intake points of water treatment plants, and operation for the plants would have to be closed then.

This, he said, had happened several times in Sungai Langat in Selangor when the river at the water supply intake points was found to be polluted with ammoniacal nitrogen.

“If more people realise that the water they are drinking comes from rivers, they may think twice before polluting it. The cost for water treatment can get really high. This could even lead to higher water tariffs,” he added.

Hanapi said the amount of rubbish that ended up in rivers was actually higher because not all rivers were installed with rubbish traps or log booms.

This also excludes the garbage that is collected by local authorities from drains, he added.


Plastic and polystyrene clogging up Klang River
ROYCE TAN The Star 25 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: A horrendous stench greets those who go near the log boom at the downstream of Sungai Batu, one of the tributaries of the Klang River.

What’s worse is the sight of the log boom where heaps of rubbish are collected, made up mainly of plastic bags and bottles and polystyrene containers.

A check by The Star recently found a kayak, motorcycle helmets, footballs, tree branches, tin cans and many others.

According to a spokesman from the Drainage and Irrigation Department’s (DID) Klang River basin office, this was a common sight at the log boom.

“We have even found things like sofa sets, mattresses, refrigerators, washing machines and motorcycle frames.

“Many take the easy way out by dumping everything into rivers, even though they know very well that this will pollute our rivers.

“This log boom itself (in Batu River) traps more than a tonne of rubbish monthly. It’s worse during the rainy season because more garbage gets washed into the rivers,” he said.

A log boom is a barrier placed in a river that is designed to collect or contain floating garbage.

Last year, 205 tonnes of rubbish were collected just from the Klang River and its many tributaries – 75 tonnes from gross pollutant traps (GPT), 60 tonnes from log booms and trash rakes and 70 tonnes from manual cleaning.

From January to April this year, 85 tonnes of rubbish have already been collected.

The spokesman said river cleaning was done using various methods such as installation of river traps like gross pollutant traps, log booms and trash rake, manual cleaning and the use of manpower and machineries.

He said GPTs were provided at the downstream end of drains or engineered waterways which discharge to sensitive rivers, water quality control ponds or urban lakes to reduce sediment load, litter, oil and chemicals.

“In the Klang Valley, the River of Life (RoL) project was initiated to transform the Klang-Gombak River corridor in Kuala Lumpur into a vibrant and liveable waterfront generating economic value.

“This project is focused on cleaning up and beautifying the polluted rivers in the Klang Valley.

“This initiative is led by DID with the support of 26 agencies across four ministries, including local authorities such as Selayang Municipal Council, Ampang Jaya Municipal Council and DBKL.

“DID has exceeded its target by completing the construction of 369 gross pollutant traps, log booms and trash rakes,” said the spokesman.

He added that the Government had allocated RM3bil since 2011 for the project until 2020.

The Government had also allocated RM114mil to rehabilitate rivers under the “One State One River” programme from 2006 to 2007.


Ministry: Work together in cleaning Sg Klang
The Star 26 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is calling on the Selangor state government and local councils to work together in cleaning up Sungai Klang.

Following a front page report by The Star that 21 tonnes of rubbish is collected monthly from the Klang Valley’s biggest river, minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he wanted to keep its waters clean.

But the ministry’s will alone would not be enough, he said, noting that the Federal Govern­ment only had jurisdiction of 8km of the 120km river.

“The local councils must work with us. They cannot rely on my ministry alone because water resources and the river are under the state purview.

“This is why we are inviting Selangor to work together with us to make the river a river of life. If not, waste from domestic and industries will continue to pollute it,” he said.

Malaysian Water Partnership vice-chairman Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor said that as many as 700kg of rubbish was thrown into drains daily which eventually find its way into Sungai Klang.

This despite the “Love Our River” campaign that was launched more than 10 years ago.

The Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 2014 showed that based on the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, 186 rivers (39%) were slightly polluted and 43 rivers (9%) were polluted in 2014.

This is an increase of the 173 rivers (36.6%) slightly polluted and 25 polluted rivers (5.3%) the previous year.

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