KUCHING: Sarawak plans to gazette another 88 water catchment areas in the next five years to check uncontrolled activities, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.
He said the state had 18 gazetted catchment areas covering 3.8 million hectares.
“These gazetted areas are in areas like Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Sarikei where the populations are large,” he told reporters after opening an international freshwater management conference and exhibition at Crowne Plaza Riverside Hotel here yesterday.
The two-day event is jointly organised by Sarawak Rivers Board and Sarawak Development Institute in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
It is being held in support of the United Nations’ declaration of 2003 as the International Year of Fresh Water.
Dr Chan, who is also state Finance and Public Utilities Minister, said the gazetting of more water catchment areas was part of the state’s integrated water management masterplan.
However, the gazetting of some of the areas might be lifted from time to time if they were not needed to supply raw water for treatment plants, he said, adding that the state had also gazetted 35 rivers.
At the opening ceremony earlier, Dr Chan said although Sarawak was endowed with a bountiful supply of water, it saw the importance of managing the resource in an integrated manner.
“It is becoming harder to find clean potable water due to pollution, over-exploitation, industrial and agricultural use, and the demand of a growing population.
“Accessible fresh water in lakes, rivers and aquifers is less than one-tenth of all the Earth’s water, and it rarely lies where it is needed most.”
He said that attention had to be given to the growing effects of urbanisation on water demands and usage, and to the critical role played by local and municipal authorities as well as countries in managing the supply, use and treatment of water.
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