43 rivers in Malaysia polluted, says Minister

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PUTRAJAYA: A total of 43, or nine per cent of rivers in the country, mostly in the urban areas are polluted, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Out of the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment, he said 186 rivers, or 39%, were slightly polluted while 244 rivers or 52% were clean.

“Most of the polluted rivers are in urban areas where the high pollution load originates from multiple sources, including wastewater plants, industries and commercial premises coupled with small base flow volume due to a large percentage of paved areas,” he said in his keynote speech at the Seminar on Water Resources Security in the Context of Sustainable Development Goals here today.

The text of his speech was read by his deputy Hamim Samuri.

Wan Junaidi said he was concerned about suspended sediment pollution from land development activities where huge tract of lands were being cleared for replanting or new commercial crops.

He said in most cases there were few erosion control measures and most of the sediment was washed into waterways during storms.

“I have received reports that the turbidity level for one major river in Malaysia has even reached 6,000 Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU),” he said adding that in a typical case, a reading of 1,000 NTU would cause a water treatment plant to be shut down.

Wan Junaidi said the proposed Water Resources Act was expected to strengthen water resources management in Malaysia.

“My ministry realises that strong commitment and cooperation of all stakeholders is needed, especially the state governments, and for that reason we have gone to all the states to explain the importance of working together and to accept the proposed bill,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, his ministry was committed to supporting and implementing the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development (SDG) especially at the security aspect of water resources for the nation.

BERNAMA