IT IS important to preserve the river basin of Sungai Hulu Kinta near Ipoh to ensure sustainability of the water catchment area.
Global Environment Centre river care programme coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan said to ensure that happened, an integrated project management of the river basin was being carried out.
Dr Kalithasan said the three-year project funded by Hasanah Foundation began in May last year with an initial environmental assessment of the upstream river basin, as well as consultations and committee meetings carried out.
He said the project was progressing smoothly as there was cooperation from the state government, private sector and the community.
Dr Kalithasan hoped this would continue until its full implementation in 2021.
“The project has two main objectives. First is to ensure the development and the strategic ownership of forest management and water resources and second, to empower and create community involvement in forest management and river protection.
“We hope with the initiatives, the local community can be the eyes and ears to curb exploitation of the area,” he said before the launch of a workshop on river basin management at a hotel in Ipoh.
State Education, Science, Environment, Green Technology and Information Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari launched the workshop.
Also present was state Drainage and Irrigation Department deputy director (river division) Salfarina Mohd Sharif.
Dr Kalithasan said the Sultan Azlan Shah Dam, situated upstream, was a source of clean water for the people of Ipoh.
He said the dam was vital as it supplied water to all of Ipoh. He also identified sedimentation as a problem there.
“The Perak Water Board spent millions to make sure water is treated properly.
“However, downstream there are problems with inappropriate land use, development, and issues of solid waste contributing to pollution.
“We are unable to restore riers, we can only rehabilitate them,” he added.
Dr Abdul Aziz later told a press conference that it was time for the Government to set up a special commission to monitor rivers in the country.
He said the commission would be a good platform at the national level.
“For example in Britain, the water management and waterways come under the purview of a federal agency.
“So if we have something similar, it will be informative to share and exchange views in the international arena,” he added.
On the project, he said it was a great effort by the parties involved to ensure the river was not exploited.
“Sungai Kinta is the ‘heartbeat’ to all the tributaries (including Sungai Ulu Kinta), and a main water source for those in Ipoh.
“In Malaysia, rivers provide 97% of water supply to the people for drinking purposes, as well as for daily usage.
“Thu, it is very important to maintain its sustainability,” he added.