Wednesday, March 29, 2006
posted by PabloPabla at 12:49 am

Rubbish trapped for months

KUALA SELANGOR: A thick layer of rubbish resembling a floating landfill trapped at Sungai Selangor’s rubbish boom near Batang Berjuntai is proof that our rivers are treated as dumping grounds.

The plants that grow on the mass of rubbish several kilometres away from the raw water intake station indicates that the boom has not been cleared for months.

The volume of rubbish was so huge that one could walk on the mass where banana and yam plants flourished. A monitor lizard was spotted foraging amid the rubbish.

On the riverbanks, rubbish that had been dredged up – plastic soft drink bottles, cleaning agent bottles, bicycle tyres – were just left there. There were also traces of burnt plastic material.

Such was the condition at a rubbish boom along Sungai Selangor when The Star inspected the river.

POLLUTED RIVER: Rubbish trapped behind the boom at Sungai Selangor which stops garbage from flowing downstream into the nearby Puncak Niaga water intake station has not been cleaned for months. Plants can be seen growing out of it. — STARpic by LAI VOON LOONG
With such poor maintenance, it is no wonder that Klang Valley residents require extensive filtration and treatment for the water that comes out of the tap.

“The contractors will clear the rubbish once in three months,” said a villager who collects plastic bottles from the boom for recycling.

He said one could find an assortment of materials floating downstream.

“Logs, wood, and styrofoam boxes. Sometimes, dead animals and entrails. If the river overflows its banks, the rubbish can escape the boom and flow downstream,” said the man in his 50s.

The river is milky orange for miles and miles upstream, turning a lighter shade upstream. According to experts the milky-orange colour indicates the high presence of suspended solids in the water.

“And this is mainly caused by land clearing and development upstream,” said an expert on water treatment, who declined to be named.

Sand mining activities were evident at Sungai Selangor, and its tributary Sungai Tengi. Upstream near Air Itam, along Sungai Selangor, there was more illegal dumping. Asbestos panels and plastic sheets were also there.

However, at a tiny water-pump station along Sungai Tengi, the water was surprisingly clear of rubbish. An angler was out in the sun, waiting for a bite.

The stream trickled gently, the water seemingly clean despite the presence of goat and cattle farms nearby that did not appear to have any form of waste treatment facilities.

Further upstream, there were an abattoir, a fish farm and a large fruit plantation with a metal pipe connected to the river, possibly to draw water.

Larger fish farms, the size of 10 to 15 football fields, and oil palm plantations, with treatment plants were also located along the riverbanks near Bukit Beruntung.

Closer to the start of Sungai Selangor, near Rasa, Hulu Selangor, smaller illegal dumpsites and farms were found.

According to a water expert, any place within 360sq km of the water intake point should be classified as a catchment area and activities within it must be regulated or monitored.

“If toxic waste and heavy metal gets into the river, we will face serious health consequences,” he said.

He said the farms, oil palm plantations, and orchards should be monitored so that waste and fertiliser did not get into the waterways.

The expert, who has been in the water business since the 1950s, said the Government should also consider building “water banks” or raw water storage ponds using disused mining pools.

“If there is contamination the water banks can be used during emergencies,” he said.

Source : The Star - 28th March, 2006

This piece of news make me sick. But I'm not surprised at all. And what response will we get from Syabas (Puncak Niaga) or the local government? "We don't know about this", "We are looking into this", "We are short of manpower", "We need more allocation of funds to deal with this", "It is the fault of those who throw rubbish indiscriminately". Pointing fingers, zero accountability.

Every citizen is entitled to clean water. After all, we are required to pay for water which we consume. Whilst it is right for the authority to place a rubbish boom to collect rubbish, why was it left to accumulate for 3 months before the rubbish is cleared? Perhaps they are allowing a bridge to be built across the river. Or are they working in cohorts with water filtration companies to increase the latter's sale of filtration products.

It is indeed sad that for a country that boasts the tallest flag in the world, soon-to-be biggest court complex in the world, used-to-be tallest building in the world etc, we are struggling with cleanliness and inadequate supply of water. It is indeed sad that having to pay RM1.20 per cubic metre of water (for condos) and lesser for other types of residential dwellings, consumers have to spend more money to buy water filters to install at their homes and watch the slime and grime accumulate on their water filter as fast as they could blink their eyes. How many of your white clothes turn yellow after a few washes? How many of your water containers turn yellow / brown after a few refills?

Know your rights and take care of your health!