Task force to check on arsenic in river water supplies to 1,000 villages

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

LENGGONG: The Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG) and the National Water Services Commission will conduct a detailed study to identify the sources of pollution in Sungai Rui, Gerik.

Last Thursday, Perak executive councillor Abdul Aziz Bari had said that recent tests by the department had shown a high arsenic content in the river water.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar said the department had set up a task force to identify solutions to the water pollution by regularly sampling water at several locations.

He said in general, Klian Intan, Hulu Perak, had been identified as an area rich in minerals such as tin and sulphide minerals. such as arsenopyrite and pyrite.

Any mining or land-clearing activities could lead to a natural acidic reaction, which in turn could release heavy metals such as arsenic, iron, lead, zinc and nickel into the water, he added.

He said JMG would provide mapping data on mining, logging, agriculture, industrial activities as well as the location of Perak Water Board water treatment plants and JMG’s water wells in Hulu Perak.

Xavier said the river was a raw water source for the Air Ganda treatment plant, which supplied water to 1,000 villagers with a capacity of 0.68 million litres per day.

“We do not want to point fingers at any one party without properly identifying in detail the causes of the pollution.”

Xavier was speaking to reporters after visiting a eucalyptus farm with Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department director-general Akhirrudin Mahmud and several foreign envoys in Bukit Sapi here today.

Commenting on his visit today, Xavier said eucalyptus trees had good potential to be planted under the Forest Farm Development Programme.

He said this was due to their short yield of seven to eight years, making it a good investment opportunity.

“We will do a study on the cultivation of these eucalyptus trees, which can be used in a variety of products.

“It could become a future source of income for the country, thus reducing our dependence on oil palm,” he added.