Encouraging ‘citizen scientists’ to monitor lake water


ENGAGING and educating the community about the importance of conserving freshwater is another primary objective of the project called ‘Guarding Our Water Together: Unveiling the Hidden World of Water Security and Ecosystems’.

Universiti Malaya (UM) Department of Research Management social research officer Nuratiqah Mohamad Norpi said to achieve this, they designed various activities aimed at empowering local communities, like the Friends of Taman Aman (Fota).

Fota had approached Nuratiqah along with her colleague Chang Lee Wei, a research officer from the university’s Centre for Civilisational Dialogue (UMCCD), to address the pollution at Tasik Aman in Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya.

She said the project included capacity building and partnership with local authorities and engaging with Fota to promote the concept of “citizen scientist”.

“We aim to enhance their understanding of freshwater conservation and the impacts of cyanobacterial (dense and sometimes toxic) blooms and microplastics.

“This will also foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among the local community,” she said.

Long-term sustainability

Upon the project’s completion, Nuratiqah envisioned that Fota and citizen scientists would be equipped to independently monitor the water quality of Tasik Aman, thanks to the empowerment activities conducted.

“The research team will remain available to offer guidance and support whenever necessary,” she added.

If possible and with additional funding, she said, they also hoped to deploy a monitoring system based on Internet of Things (IoT) for early detection and effective management of microalgae blooms.

“This could empower citizen scientists to actively participate in environmental conservation efforts through data collection and monitoring of freshwater dynamics,” she said.

Chang said they would work towards ensuring the voices of the community are heard in future decision-making processes.

The public will be invited to participate in stakeholder consultations, data interpretation sessions and community forums such as their upcoming UM World Environment Day Symposium 2024 public forum on June 8 from 9am to 11am by registering on https://shorturl.at/WY4Fk, along with a mini exhibition in November.

“Here, they can share their insights, opinions, and contribute to the formulation of water management policies and strategies alongside local council representatives,” he said.

In January this year, StarMetro highlighted in a report titled ‘Public Parks in Need of Monitoring’, among other things, the concern on the water quality of Tasik Aman.

There were issues with murky water conditions of Tasik Aman due to the aerators being turned off by irresponsible anglers.

Based on a Google Earth view, the total area of Tasik Aman is approximately 18,592.52 sq m, equivalent to 223,000 m³ (cubic meter) volume of water.

The aerators’ function is to create movement in the water to improve water quality, and reduce the growth of algae.

In the same report, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) had said among methods carried out was to instal aerators for the purpose of aeration, which can increase the oxygen content in the water and improve the quality of the water mechanically.

City council support

Petaling Jaya mayor Mohamad Zahari Samingon said the city council welcomed groups to help improve the water quality of Tasik Aman.

“We have held discussions with Fota as well as groups regarding the environment and health.

“In PJ, we want to support this, as long as the community is involved and there is a solution,” he said.

Zone 19 (Section 20, 21 and 22) councillor Nalina Nair said the data from the academics was important for MBPJ to solve the issues at the lake.

“I hope we can get a better understanding on why the lake is in that condition.

“Even before I was the area councillor, there were efforts to sort out the overgrowth of algae, but nothing worked,” she said. — By AIDA AHMAD

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