‘Team effort needed to clean up rivers’

Md Khairi says those living near rivers must look after them.

THE problem of raw effluents from sewage treatment plants (STP) being released into rivers needs to be addressed to ensure our waterways remain clean.

Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) River Basin Management Division director Md Khairi Selamat said when STPs are not functioning optimally, untreated water flows into rivers and causes contamination.

“If this problem continues, we will still have dirty rivers no matter how much we clean them, ” he said.

Another major culprit of river pollution is indiscriminate rubbish dumping and industrial waste, mostly from unregulated businesses like car workshops and illegal factories near rivers.

“The land office and local authorities are in the process of sorting out these issues, ” he said after launching the Green Awards 2019 in Gombak.

In a month, DID collected and disposed of between 10 and 13 tonnes of rubbish accumulated at its 10 log booms and 396 gross pollutant traps (GPT).

GPTs are installed in rivers to minimise inflow of rubbish into the sea while a log boom is a barrier placed in a river that is designed to collect or contain floating logs and rubbish.

Md Khairi said although they were seeing positive results with various initiatives and programmes under the River of Life (ROL) project, there was still plenty of work to be done with less than two years left to bring the river from its current Class III-Class V water quality (not suitable for body contact) to Class IIB (suitable for body contact-recreational usage).

“There is a prevalent attitude that looking after the river is not their responsibility and people assume that the authorities should clean it up.

“Any community programme must include the people living in the area and carrying out business there. The residents must be educated on how the project can benefit them, ” said Md Khairi.

The RM4.4bil ROL project involves Sungai Klang and Sungai Gombak, including six tributaries, all located within the Greater Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley region.

The three major components of the project are river cleaning and beautification as well as commercialisation/tourism.

A total of RM3.4bil has been allocated to clean up the rivers.Beautification will focus on a 10.7km stretch along the Klang and Gombak rivers while commercialisation and tourism within the same riverfronts will take place from 2020 onwards.

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