THE Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) is taking steps to protect rivers and prosecute those involved in polluting the main water source in the state.
State Works, Rural, and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said since October 2014, the Water Enactment 1921 had been amended to give Bakaj more authority in controlling water sources.
However, until now, there has not been a single pollution case brought to court under the Enactment.
“This is because of difficulties in enforcing the Enactment because it overlaps with other legislation such as the Environmental Quality Act 1974 under the Environment Department,” he said in reply to Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba (BN-Pasir Raja) and Tan Chen Choon (DAP-Jementah) at the state assembly sitting.
Hasni said under the Act, factories were allowed to release ammonia until 300 part per million (ppm) at rivers but water treatment plants could only sustain 1.5 ppm.
Aware of this, Bakaj had made a decision to implement total maximum daily loads (TMDL) which was a better way to protect rivers.
“The TDML would need at least two years’ of studies and once gazetted, it would surpass any jurisdiction under the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he said.
Hasni added that Bakaj has received an allocation to install measurement tools in strategic locations to obtain accurate readings within 24 hours once pollution occurs.
The tools are being installed along Sungai Johor and will enable a quicker response from Bakaj.
“With the installation of these tools and usage of TMDL, we will be able to take action to ensure water quality is not affected.”
Hasni added Bakaj would also need to gazette water catchment areas and introduce new rules to protect sources including requiring land owners obtain approval or a licence prior to carrying out activities that could potentially harm water quality.
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