PETALING JAYA: River pollution should be tackled upstream where the drains are, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) River Engineering and Urban Drainage Research Centre director Prof Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria.
Dr Nor Azazi said it would be pointless cleaning rivers if drains flowing into them continued to be dirty.
“There needs to be a sustainable design to trap and collect rubbish from flowing downstream. Clean drains mean clean rivers.
“The Government has also spent so much to maintain our rivers and to collect rubbish. We need to re-look our enforcement measures to overcome this.
“If rubbish keeps being dumped into drains and rivers, it would affect a river’s stability – the riverbed, river capacity and equilibrium would all be influenced adversely.
“Secondly, it will also affect water supply downstream and the aquatic life in the river,” he said.
Dr Nor Azizi said it was high time the Government seriously considered including the environment in the school curriculum, starting from the lower levels.
He said that awareness programmes such as the “Love Our River” campaign need to be run professionally to ensure they can be measured and improved on.
The “Love Our River” campaign is carried out by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) to encourage public awareness, empathy and care for rivers and includes concerted efforts to clean up rivers nationwide.
It was launched in 1993 to educate the public on the importance of rivers and the environment while highlighting the critical state of pollution of the rivers.
The Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 2014 showed that based on the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, 186 rivers (39%) were slightly polluted and 43 rivers (9%) were polluted in 2014.
This is an increase of the 173 rivers (36.6%) slightly polluted and 25 polluted rivers (5.3%) the previous year.