Keeping rivers clean
TWO sources of river pollution are “grey water” from households and commercial premises that go straight into rivers (via drains) instead of into the public sewer network.
(Grey water is wastewater from kitchen sinks, showers, clothes washing machines, oily dishes being washed at restaurants etc. This is contrasted with “black water” or sewage, which is discharged from toilets and contains human faeces.)
Sewage from toilets is channelled into the public sewer network (which is handled by Indah Water Konsortium), while industrial waste should be treated before it can be discharged into drains and rivers.
“For grey water, the main challenge faced would be to get all premises connected to the centralised sewage treatment plants. Direct discharge of grey water into storm drains pollutes lakes and rivers. This not only harms the fauna and flora, but also threatens raw water sources to feed water treatment plants (which produce tap water),” explained Zaini.
Polluted and highly contaminated raw water increases the treatment cost and will eventually result in higher water tariffs to the public.
“Storm drains should be dry when there is no rain. If they are not, there must be wrong connections in the piping system. All water from houses should ideally either go to the sewer network or septic tanks but that’s not happening now, except in new townships,” he said.
At the moment, sewage treatment plants (STP) do not treat industrial wastewater under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Act 655) and most STPs are not designed for it.
However, under the proposed amendment to Act 655, industrial wastewater can be channelled to STPs for treatment.
Zaini said that tackling river pollution requires a multi-pronged approach. One of the ministry’s latest initiatives is the National Blue
Ocean Strategy (NBOS) project called MyLangat Water.
The pilot project involves cleaning up a river tributary near Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, involving staff, volunteers and the local community.
The aim is to adopt 10 river tributaries along Sungai Langat (which flows to Banting, Selangor), which has over 100 tributaries in total. NBOS involves everyone, including the local community, working together, rather than in separate silos.
“We believe in creating awareness for people to ‘own’ and take pride in cleaning our rivers ,” said Zaini.
“To support this, we have launched a WhatsApp group called Friends of Langat River to gather support from people of all walks of life.” –
Volunteers cleaning up the waterway in the Friends of Langat River project.
Grey water from drains pollute our rivers. The solution is to connect all drains to centralised sewage treatment plants. – Filepic