LANGKAWI: Human faeces, and not industrial waste, make up the bulk of organic pollutants in the heavily polluted rivers of the country.
Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah said a study carried out by the Department of Environment two years ago showed that 91% of the organic pollution was caused by faecal matters.
He said this occurred because many residents who used septic tanks refused to engage Indah Water Konsortium to carry out de-sludging periodically.
“There is general misconception that the main sources of pollution are from industrial waste and landfills.
Keizrul said earthworks that caused siltation make up the bulk of the physical pollutants.
“We have imposed erosion and sediment control plan on developers to control physical pollution,” he said.
On a recent statement made by Environment Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid that the Love Our River campaign initiated in 1993 was a failure, Keizrul said the programme had at least succeeded in creating awareness on river pollution.
“Now, we are taking our campaign a step further, through education. We are formulating a curriculum for schools to teach children how to assess levels of pollution using a bio indicator technique,” he said.
Keizrul said children were the best agents for change.
Of the 2,000 rivers in Malaysia, 16 have been identified as dead rivers. “The worst polluted rivers are in Penang, Selangor and Johor,” he said.
He said RM200mil was allocated under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for the One State, One River project to clean up the most polluted river in each state.
“Our ultimate aim is to ensure all the 189 river basins in the country are clean by 2020,” he said, adding that Malaysia has 35,000km of rivers.