Keep­ing rivers clean

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Ecowatch - By Wong Li Za

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

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