Water resource

Pahang govt ‘killing’ Tasik Chini’s ecosystem

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |

-Free Malaysia Today-
Aneesa Alphonsus | November 30, 2011

The legendary Tasik Chini’s more modern saga concerns ecological mismanagement and the near collapse of a delicate ecosystem.


Mystical Tasik Chini, which once spawned a legendary tale of a behemoth dragon or sea serpent called Naga Seri Gumum and the presence of the Sacred Lotus Nelumbo Nucifera is deeply polluted and the Pahang government is to be blamed.

Chini which is made up by a series of 12 lakes is not so much a lake but more of a naturally dammed tributary of the Pahang River.

Until recently the lake’s waters rose and fell with the seasons. During the rainy season the waters were unable to flow down the narrow Sungai Chini and so became backed up in a series of lakes.

This resulted in a unique ecosystem, dominated by the presence of the Sacred Lotus Nelumbo Nucifera which once covered the entire surface of the lake system.

During low waters the lotus seeds would germinate, their roots would take hold in the soft mud and the stunning blooms would appear on the water’s surface.

During the monsoonal floods, from October to January, the lotus would die but their fertilized new seeds would litter the lake bottom waiting the dry season to bloom again.

This exquisite cycle is however damned.

In 1995, the state government, in a bid to commercialize the area and make the lakes more appealing to visitors in the dry season, built a dam at the point where Sungai Chini entered the Pahang River. The structure stopped the free flow of water which was never able to recede again.

It wasn’t long before the Tasik Chini natural ecosystem started showing signs of stress.

Species going extinct

According to Azimudin Bahari, who is with the natural resources and environment ministry, studies have shown that the lake is polluted.

“The scientific studies by the Tasik Chini Research Centre in University Kebangsaan Malaysia clearly show several indicators of a more polluted freshwater lake. Lotus is increasingly extinct and tourist arrivals to Tasik Chini are declining.

“With the rapid decline of this lake, many species of freshwater fish have become extinct.

“The loss of fish not only deprives the communities of an important source of protein, but also has resulted in the loss of traditional fishing methods.”

Azimudin was speaking on the matter at the Care To Action: Multi-Pronged Strategy Needed To Reverse The Decline of Tasik Chini Workshop organised by Transparency International Malaysia (TMI) recently.

He said the suggested multi-pronged strategies however should be based on the principles of sustainability, good governance and recognition of the community particularly the Jakun Orang Asli tribe as the guardians of the locality.

He said the aspiration and cultural practices of the local community must be respected in the economic development of the Tasik Chini area.

There is hope

Despite the less than heartening prognosis, there might still hope for Tasik Chini.

But much of this hope hinges on whether the Pahang government will take the necessary measures to stop the sources of pollution and restore the free flow of water into the lake from Sungai Chini and Sungai Pahang.

Many are of the view that a collective effort between the authorities and the locals is needed to rehabilitate the lake.

The Orang Asli and other conscientious residents around the area have already made it their business to remove weeds called Ekor Kucing (Cat’s Tail) which are choking and absorbing the oxygen in the water.

Ailee Jane, a frequent visitor to Chini, opined that the authorities should remove the dam to allow the lake to heal itself naturally.

“The lake is dying a natural death because of the weir. It is polluted and there is so much of sedimentation.”

Urgent need to resuscitate lake

TMI secretary general Josie Fernandez said that the catchment area around Tasik Chini is being destroyed because of certain kinds of fertilizers which go into the water.

Residents, mostly the Orang Asli, use this water for cooking, bathing and drinking, thereby resulting in skin afflictions.

“Tin ore mining is yet another culprit,” she said, adding that “water from the waste flows into the lake which results in the loss of the fish which is a cheap source of protein.

“There is a story of an Orang Asli who went out early in the morning to catch some fish and only came back with one. He asked how was he going to share that one fish with the other seven families in his village.

“The thing about the Orang Asli at Chini is that they observe sustainable use of the natural resources.

“It’s never about huge profits where they are concerned, and definitely not about enterprise. They don’t do it to destroy the area.

“There really should be more accountability and Chini should be protected as an eco-tourism area. There is an urgent need to resuscitate what has been lost,” said Fernandez

Buy land back from Felda

Fernandez firmly believes that that all development in the catchment area should be stopped and if necessary, land should be bought back from Felda.

“In any development, there should be equity for all, for people and nature and a balance of the two must exist.

“This has been overlooked in previous policies pertaining to development and conservation of Chini.

“It’s our collective responsibly to resolve and go to the very source of the problem which lie in the way the catchment areas have been developed.

“This is not just an environmental issue but more of one concerning governance,” she said.

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Kelantanese kids face tooth decay woes

Posted on November 24, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Star-

ALMOST all children under four years old in Kelantan are facing tooth decay problems due to the lack of fluoride in water supply in the state.

Utusan Malaysia reported that statistics showed that in 2007, 95.3% of children in the age bracket have decaying teeth.

In that year, the daily reported, only 18.1% of the people in Kelantan received water supply with fluoride and the figure had dropped to only 14.1% last year.

At national level, the percentage of children below the age of six facing tooth decay problems stands at 74.5%.

It said in the same period, 62.7% of children below 12 suffered from the problem compared to only 41.5% at national level.

The problem, said the report, was even more serious for those above 16, with 83.5% of them suffering from the problem.

It reported that 24 out of 29 water treatment plants owned by Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd did not have the fluoridation system to add fluorine into the water supplied to the people to prevent tooth decay.

The report said, only treatment plants in Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Machang and Kuala Krai have the fluoridation system in place.

The Health Ministry has set the healthy range of fluoride in drinking water between 0.4ppm (parts of fluoride per million parts of water) to 0.6ppm.

The report said Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd had failed to meet the requirements set by the ministry due to its cost-cutting exercise.

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‘Our rivers deserve respect’

Posted on November 13, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods, Water resource |

-The Borneo Post-

BETTER KNOWLEDGE: Taib (left) and Uggah (on his left) being briefed on a development project at the exhibition. At right is Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi Taib. — Photo by Jeffery Mostapa

KUCHING: Sarawakians must stop treating the state’s rivers as an all-purpose waste disposal bin as there is a limit on what the government could do in terms of rehabilitation, said Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Opening World Rivers Day 2011 at Kuching Waterfront yesterday, the chief minister said a good habit to nurture among the rakyat would be to raise the red flag whenever they see someone throwing rubbish, no matter how big or small, into rivers.

“Do not take our rivers for granted, and stop treating them like an all-purpose vehicle for waste disposal.

“Malaysia is a developing country that can’t afford to spend a lot on river rehabilitation. We must work harder to conserve rivers so as to tackle environmental issues.

“We want to make Kuching the first city to exude exemplary environmental care, and lead the rest.”

Taib reminded the people that the state’s population was now well over two million, and the volume of waste were expected to continue increasing.

“As our population grows and the state going for industrialisation, we must ensure that the pollution of our rivers will never increase at the rate of our industrialisation.

“Otherwise, all of us will have to pay the price.”

Taib said Sarawakians deserved to have clean rivers which they could use for a myriad of activities such as games, recreation, and relaxation.

He told those present that the government would be injecting RM4 billion into the centralised sewerage system here.

“The sewerage system is going to cut down a lot of pollution of our rivers because all the waste water from households and other premises would be treated first before being allowed into our rivers.”

He expressed confidence that the state would be able to successfully rejuvenate degraded rivers, so as to prevent them from “becoming dead as they were.”

“I know Sungai Tabuan will be a lot better within 10 years; Sungai Bintangor is being cleaned at the moment and will become as clean as Sungai Sarawak itself one day.”

Earlier, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas pointed out that Sungai Sarawak remained the cleanest river in Malaysia as of today.

Quoting data compiled last year by the Department of Environment (DOE), he said 51.4 per cent of the 570 rivers in the country were categorised as clean, 35.6 per cent slightly polluted, and the remaining 13 per cent polluted.

In Sarawak alone, eleven of the 51 rivers being monitored by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) were categorised as clean, 30 slightly polluted, and the rest polluted.

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RM4bil project will help clean up Sg Sarawak

Posted on November 12, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |


The RM4 billion Kuching sewerage project is expected to improve the water quality index (WQI) of the slightly polluted Sungai Sarawak, upon completion of the first phase by next year.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said the project would enable domestic and industrial wastes within Kuching City to be treated first before they are discharged into the Sungai Sarawak and its tributaries.

“As part of the state’s river rehabilitation programme, I am confident the oxygen content of the Sungei Sarawak can be restored gradually so that its WQI can be upgraded to the clean status of level two from the (current) level three now,” he said when officiating the national-level World Rivers Day 2011 celebrations at the Kuching Waterfront today.

He said the clean-up of Sungai Sarawak was in response to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call to the state government to emulate the successful rehabilitation efforts to restore the dying River Thames in London, as result of toxic wastes and the dense population.

There should be concerted efforts by the relevant authorities, including the natural resources and environment ministry, as well as the local government, to clean up the rivers as a proud showcase for the people to enjoy as a place for relaxation and recreation, added Abdul Taib.

Water quality at risk

Earlier, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said there were 12,187 rivers nationwide, which were the main sources of water supply although their water quantity and quality were increasingly at risk with climate change and pollution from various sources.

He said that of the 570 rivers monitored last year by the Department of Environment (JAS) for water quality, 51.4 percent were categorised as clean, 35.6 percent (moderately polluted) and 13 percent (polluted).

On the other hand, 51 rivers monitored by the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board last year, found 11 to be were categorised as clean, 30 slightly polluted and 10 polluted by industrial wastes, sewerage plants, agricultural and livestock wastes.

The ministry, through the drainage and irrigation department and JAS, have selected Sungai Miri and Sungai Bintagor here under the ‘One State One River’ programme to conserve and rehabilitate rivers and its surrounding areas.

He said Sungai Sarawak was among the four river basins selected for the Integrated River Basin Management programme to mitigate pollution and floods in the river basin.

– Bernama


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Protect water sources

Posted on June 8, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |

The Star

PROVIDING an adequate drinking water supply is one of the most critical problems today. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the main reasons for this problem is the lack of integration at the watershed scale between the organisations responsible for the management of water and forest resources.

Malaysia is home to the one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. About 20,456,000ha or 62.3% of Malaysia is forested, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Extensive and unplanned logging activity has been a long existing problem in Malaysia. According to WWF, in 1985, Borneo had 73.7% forest cover and this was reduced to 50.4% by the year 2005. And it is predicted this will be reduced to only 30% by the year 2020.

As the president of the Malaysian Water Forum, I would like to reiterate the importance of having an integrated water resource management plan to preserve access to clean and safe drinking water for the current and future generations.

We have been waiting a long time for a National Water Resource Policy and a National Water Policy.

It was reported in April last year that Malaysia will have its National Water Resources Policy following the completion of the National Water Resource Study scheduled to be completed in this year.

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), which covers the holistic management of both water resources and land usage, must be practised to ensure the continuity of safe and clean drinking water.

Studies show that well-managed natural forests provide benefits to populations in terms of high quality drinking water with less sediment and pollutants than water from other catchments.

More attention and political will is needed to ensure that the rural populations living in watersheds are not disadvantaged in the process of protection or management for water quality.

All water catchments area in the country must be “gazetted” and free from any development to ensure the quality of the water.

A list comprising the location of the water catchments area must be made available to the public in order to increase public awareness and also awareness among developers and local governments.

Programmes to instill the ownership of the catchments must be enhanced. Under the forestry regulations, all such catchments must be treated as protected areas.

With increased pollution, indiscriminate land use and growing population, the water service industry is finding it increasingly challenging to supply clean and safe water at cheap rates.

Aging distribution infrastructure, increasing cost of chemicals used for treatment and poor governance has resulted in the water sector owing the Federal government approximately RM8bil in 2003 prior to the water sector re-structuring.

Consumers have a right to safe water but also need to be reminded that they, too, have social and environmental responsibilities. They also have the responsibility to act against indiscriminate treatment of the environment and act according to principles of sustainable development.

Therefore in conjunction with World Environment Day (June 5), I would like to urge all consumers to support efforts towards, and demand better treatment for, natural water resources, especially forests and wetlands, and preservation and rehabilitation of forests.

President, Forum Air Malaysia.

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Sarawak’s tropical log production falls

Posted on April 28, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity, Forestry/Wetlands, Water resource |

-The Star-

KUCHING: Sarawak’s tropical log production fell sharply this year, adversely affected by the ongoing flooding, or impoundment, of the Bakun hydroelectric dam in the upper Rejang River Basin in the central region.

Total production in the first quarter (Q1) of 2011 was 1.81 million cu m, down by some 28% from 2.53 million cu m registered in Q1 2010, according to Sarawak Timber Industry Development Authority’s (STIDC) latest figures.

Jaya Tiasa Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Peter Yong said the Bakun dam’s impoundment had caused flooding of timber roads, thereby hampering the transportation of logs from several concessions in the Bakun area in Kapit Division.

He said major timber companies, like WTK Holdings Bhd and Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Group, were operating several logging licences in the Bakun area. Jaya Tiasa is controlled by the diversified RH Group.

The low log production in the first quarter was also due to the Chinese New Year break, according to Datuk Peter Yong.

The 2,400MW Bakun Dam’s impoundment started in October last year and the area to be flooded covers 690 sq km, which is about the size of Singapore. The dam’s developer, Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, had earlier predicted that the entire flooding of the dam reservoir could take up to two years.

Sarawak Hidro expects wet testing of the first of the eight turbines to be carried out in the next few weeks when the reservoir’s water level reaches about 190m. The dam is scheduled to commercially produce its first 300MW by July this year.

Yong said that when the dam’s water level reached a certain level, barges could be used to transport the logs out of the Bakun area.

“The low log production in the first quarter this year was also due to the Chinese New Year break and bad weather in March,” he told StarBiz yesterday.

However, he expects log production to slightly improve in the next few months with anticipated better weather conditions that would faciliate timber harvesting activities.

Statistics show that out of the 1.81 million cu m of logs produced in the first three months,1.73 million cu m consists of hill species, with meranti contributing the bulk about 640,000 cu m, followed by kapur (78,570 cu m), keruing (60,800 cu m) and bindang (43,400 cu m).

The Bintulu region is the top log producer, contributing 715,500 cu m, followed by Sibu region (643,800 cu m), Miri region (361,200 cu m) and Kuching region (9,800 cu m).

Out of the 79,700 cu m of swamp species harvested in Q1 2011, more than 59,000 cu m was from Miri region and 10,200 cu m from Kuching region.

Sarawak’s log exports in Q1 2011 plunged to 783,800 cu m (worth RM438.8mil), which was about 27% lower compared to 1.07 million cu m (RM507mil) during the same period last year.

Based on the comparison figures, the average log export prices had jumped by 15% to RM559 per cu m (Q1 2011), from RM475.6 per cu m (Q1 2010).

The low production figure has directly affected export volume as the Sarawak government allows only 40% of total production to be exported. About 60% is reserved for local mills to be processed into plywood and other value-added products.

Yong said the significantly higher log export prices this year were due to tighter supply, coupled with a bigger demand, especially from Japan for the reconstruction of Sendai, a Pacific coastal town destroyed by a recent devastating earthquake and tsunami.

“After the earthquake, orders from Japan had surged,” he added. However, Yong is not sure whether Sarawak timber firms could fulfill these new orders.

Sarawak shipped more than 51,800 cu m of logs worth RM28.7mil to Japan in Q1 2011, down from 81,400 cu m in Q1 2010.

India remains Sarawak’s major logs buyer, absorbing more than 506,000 cu m (nearly 65% of the state’s total exports) valued at RM294mil in Q1 2011.

Taiwan imported more than 103,000 cu m worth RM58.3mil, while China bought 66,900 cu m valued at RM33.3mil from Sarawak in Q1 2011.

Sarawak also exported logs to Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan.

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Time To Review Water Tariff – MWA

Posted on April 25, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |

(Bernama) — The Malaysian Water Association (MWA) has proposed that water utility companies in the country review the current water tariff structure in their respective states as a sustainable measure to face an impending water crisis.

MWA president Ahmad Zahdi Jamil said this was because the current tariff does not promote water sustainability and besides being too cheap, it was also not punitive towards excessive use of water.

“Major states in Malaysia will be facing severe water shortage in 2014 if measures are not taken to curb excessive wastage and high non-revenue water (NRW) levels,” he told reporters after the MWA’s 23rd Annual General Meeting held here, today.

Citing Johor and Penang as examples, he said domestic water tariff in Johor was the highest among states in Peninsula Malaysia with RM0.61 per cubic meter compared with Penang which is the cheapest at RM0.20 per cubic meter.

Difference in tariff also affected the level of water consumed, with consumers in Johor consuming 205 litre per capita per day in 2009 compared with 286 litre per capita per day by consumers in Penang, he said.



Ahmad Zahdi said according to the Water Sustainability Index (WSI) the availability and usage of water in Malaysia had shown a drop from 64 percent in 1992 to 33 percent in 2002, a reflection that the country’s water resources are rapidly depleting and have been managed unsustainably.

He said the timely review must take into consideration the affordability for the poor consumers and its ability to increase water conservation among the people.

“Increase in water tariff must modeled in such a way as not to burden the poor and it should not be done drastically. In the long run, the increase must reflect the recoverable cost,” he stressed.

Malaysia recorded the highest water usage and has the cheapest tariff among countries in Asean.

On average, Malaysians consumed 280 litres of water daily, higher than Singapore (155 litre), the Philippines (175 litres), and Indonesia (130 litres).



Ahmad Zahdi also said the NRW problems which were among others caused by pipe leakages and illegal connections should also be seriously addressed.

He said in 2009, the average NRW among the states stood at 36.6 percent, with Pahang being the highest at 59.9 percent and Selangor the lowest at 19 percent.

He said the association had proposed a resolution to the federal government on the issue and hoped it would come up with appropriate allocations to address the problems.

“We need to holistically and strategically address the NRW issue in a proper manner,” he added.

The association has about 2,100 members who are mostly industry players, academicians, experts and individuals.


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Bakun Dam saga enters next chapter

Posted on April 20, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |

-The Star-

Should project be viewed as a business deal or part of state development?

THE protracted story of the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam project, instead of ending soon, may be just going into its next chapter.

The latest saga in the tariff pricing disagreement between Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, owner and developer of the dam, and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), the offtaker and state utility board, is entering its fourth scenario.

The first round of talks just after the completion of the dam looked at its possible sale or lease; subsequently, Sarawak expressed its intention to buy over the dam.

News surfaced recently that the sale of Bakun was off and that it would be operated on a joint-venture basis.

The latest is that SEB has proposed to buy a 30% stake in the project.

The power negotiations too have undergone three changes from earlier suggestions of flat to escalating tariffs. Currently, the offer is for a starting tariff of six sen per KwH.

In February this year, SEB had indicated it was willing to pay six sen per kwh but Sarawak Hidro said it needed a flat rate of 9.5 sen per kwh on a 30-year concession.

On an escalating basis, SEB had offered 5.4 sen per kwh at 1.5% per annum (inclusive of a one sen water tariff to the state); Sarawak Hidro had countered with 6.75 sen per kwh, also at 1.5% per annum.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) negotiations went on a rocky path last month with different instructions from the state and federal governments. Early last month, the PPA talks were ordered off by the state and later in the same month, the federal government expressed the desire for the PPA to be concluded as soon as possible.

The question here is whether the Bakun Dam project should be viewed as a purely business deal or part of the socio-economic development of Sarawak?

As a business deal, the Government should make every effort to recover its investments.

If it wants to play its developmental role, it may consider taking a hit and absorbing some losses while helping Sarawak to achieve its industrial goals.

Under the study conducted by PwC, it is believed that the Bakun project is valued at between RM8bil and RM10bil; however, Sarawak’s latest tariff offer of six sen per kwh values it at only RM6bil.

In contrast, coal-fired tariffs cost 28 sen per kwh.

Some ask if giving a hefty discount is justified, as more expensive dams are coming up. They say it is not fair that power from Bakun has to be sold cheaply to subsidise the construction of these additional dams.

Others want to know why the cost of transmission via the new grid system is much higher, at over four sen per kwh compared with the cost of only one sen in the peninsula.

Sarawak has said it needs 6.000MW-7,000MW of power by 2020. Bakun has a capacity for 2,400MW and Murum is able to produce 944MW.

Others still pose questions on why polluting industries should take advantage of the cheap, clean power from Bakun.

These heavy industries located in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) have rebutted that they use advanced technology that do not pose a threat to the environment.

Scare tactics have been used which speculated on the possibility that the Bakun Dam project could end up being a white elephant if industries were not attracted to soak up the power at competitive rates.

Looking at the power requirements of Peninsular Malaysia beyond 2015, this power from Bakun may be transmitted back to the peninsula. Is it worth it to revive the idea of building the undersea transmission line especially in the wake of the nuclear scare and the limit on Malaysia’s carbon footprint under the now expired Kyoto Protocol?

Already the pressure is on to conclude the tariff negotiations. Sarawak has signed non-binding agreements with four companies to supply power. Their plants are at the preliminary stages of planning and construction.

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WWF to strengthen Tambunan water resource

Posted on March 27, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |


TAMBUNAN: WWF Malaysia is working towards strengthening the water resource for Sungai Liwagu at its water catchment.

Its chief technical officer, Dr Rahimatsah Amat, said at the launch of the WWF Environment Education Programme (Programme EE) yesterday that they hope to address water catchment management issues and advocate for protection of water catchment at the area, which is part of the Heart of Borneo (HoB).

The project aspires to improve protection and management of upland water catchment forest, enhance conservation and restoration of key species and enhance local community participation in catchment and natural resource management.

The project focuses on a pilot site in the Malaysian side of the HoB landscape in Sabah.

In this three-year project (2010-2012), WWF acts as facilitator and implementer by working in partnership with the relevant stakeholders.

WWF is working alongside HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad in the project.

The project area constitutes an upland catchment within the district of Tambunan.

The population at the selected site is mainly Dusun ethnics involved in agriculture, small-scale fish rearing and tagal, a community-based system of rehabilitation, protection and conservation of the river environment and indigenous fisheries resources.

And the environment education programme launched yesterday fulfills part of the project, he said.

“Our aim is to increase community participation in the management of their natural resource and water catchment areas,” Dr Rahimatsah said.

He added that they hope to raise awareness on issues related to water resource and the change of climate through the programme.

Most of the participants in yesterday’s programme consisted of school children between 12 and 19 years old.

“I believe that the participation of teachers in the program will facilitate awareness among the students in its activities,” said Dr Rahimatsah.

The students are hailed from SMK Desa Wawasan, SK Garas, SK Nukakatan, SK Sintuong-tuong, SK Kumawanan and SK Tinompok Liwan.

Meanwhile, students living near the river lauded the programme which they felt was important to keep their condition of their river pristine.

Azni Jamil, a Form Four student from SMK Desa Wawasan, said that there are eels and ‘belian’ fishes in the river.

“Some of the fishes caught here are huge. They have scales the size of a 50 sen coin,” she said.

She said that their water is derived from the river, and they use it for drinking, cooking and washing.

Thus it is imperative that the water remains clean, she said.

She also said that no one is allowed to throw garbage into the river.

And the only time the water at the river becomes murky is during heavy rainfall, she said.

“But the murkiness subsides the next day. Basically, you can see fishes swimming in the river at most time.”

Twelve-year-old Marcus Sapikit of SK Kumawanan shared that he likes the river to continue being as pristine as it is now.

“If it is polluted, where do we get our water? We need water to live.”

The very practical boy added that kids like him had a role to educate their families at home.

“I’ll advise my family members to never throw anything into the river,” he said.

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Water: Adopt a ‘waste not, want not’ approach

Posted on March 23, 2011. Filed under: Water resource |


In Malaysia, shortage of water shortage  is caused more by wastage and  a couldn’t-be-bothered attitude.

In Malaysia, shortage of water shortage is caused more by wastage and a couldn’t-be-bothered attitude.

I REFER to your well-written editorial “Pricing water” (NST, March 18 ).

Water is the most common and important substance on Earth, covering more than 70 per cent of the planet’s surface.

In ancient times, people lived near springs, rivers and lakes to get water to survive. Later, civilisations flourished along riverbanks in Egypt, Mesopotania, India and China.
But, today, modern technology can furnish water in huge quantities to people who live far from its source, like using hydraulic machinery for raising water from great depths and pumps for driving water through pipelines.

Yet, many people still take its presence for granted. This problem is global. Every year, there are water shortages in various parts of the world.

In Malaysia, shortage of water is not caused by little or no rainfall but by wastage and the couldn’t-be-bothered attitude of consumers.
Recently, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui disclosed that Malaysians waste the most amount of water compared with other consumers in the region.

It is even more shocking to know that about 70 per cent of Malaysians surveyed in the Domestic Water Consumption Study, from which Chin was quoting, said they would continue with their current water usage for the next three years.

We must be careful how we use water and should not take water supply for granted.
Climate change, drought, increasing population, expansion of manufacturing industries, pollution and poor management will cause water shortages.

And, without water, our lives would be very different and difficult. In fact, life itself cannot exist without water.

Before we come to the critical stage, let’s take the following steps:

– The most practical approach to reducing water shortage is conservation. This means using less water. Factories can reuse the water they use for cooling. Big cities can save large amounts of water simply by repairing leaking water mains. Ordinary people can learn to use water optimally.

We can fix leaking faucets, turn off the tap when not using it and wash the dishes in a basin of water rather than under running water from a faucet;

– The cheap price of water does not help in encouraging conservation. Perhaps, raising the price of water could help improve the situation. With a price increase, water authorities can be expected to provide better service; and,

– Lessons must be learned from the recent calamity in Japan. The first thing many of those who survived sought was water. We must realise how precious it is.

I urge the government to be careful in managing water and to take immediate steps to educate the people to use water wisely.

It should organise campaigns to educate the public. We have to learn to treasure water before it is too late.

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