Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Klang and Kuala Langat


The natural environment of the coastal areas of Klang and Kuala Langat are under threat from many sources, including pollution from land and sea-based activities, indiscriminate and improperly planned coastal development, over fishing and destruction of natural habitats. These phenomena have caused adverse impacts on the health of the ecosystem and man, resulting in increased costs of new and remedial infrastructures in both social and health service areas.

Water pollution

The quality of coastal waters of Klang and Kuala Langat is declining due to the increased dumping of wastes into upstream catchment activities, especially from housing and industrial areas, as well as discharges from agricultural and urban areas. Klang District comprises only 2 mukims, i.e. Mukim Klang (including the islands in the waters of Klang) and Mukim Meru. These two mukims (sub-districts) are located on the coastal areas of Klang. As a downstream district, the coastal areas of Klang bear the full force of all impacts from activities and developments carried out in the upstream catchments of two major rivers, namely Sungai Klang and Sungai Langat. Both rivers are seriously polluted by sewage discharges, industrial wastewaters and land runoff, which are not properly treated. Klang river flows across many districts and Local Authorities in Klang Valley including Kuala Lumpur. Langat river flows from Gunung Nuang across Langat Basin to Kuala Langat, covering four Local Authorities in Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat Districts. In addition to the upstream sources, there are also direct discharges of surface runoff, domestic sewage, ship wastes and industrial discharges into coastal waters. River and coastal waters are contaminated by E. coli. in excess of marine water quality standards. Other contaminants, such as inorganic chemicals, are also present, which will not only threaten the ecosystem, but also enter the food chain resulting in human health risks.

Port Klang is the premier port of Malaysia, with more than 14,207 vessel arrivals (year 2001). The port does not have reception facilities for wastes from ships which exposes it to potential threat of oil spills from port operations. In additional to this, discharges from ships in transit through the Straits of Melaka, or shipping accidents in the port or in the Straits, are a constant threat to the coastal waters and resources of the area.

The aquaculture also contributes to the flow of pollutants into the coastal areas of Klang



  • According to the Department of Environment, the main sources of water pollution are from livestock farms, domestic sewage, land clearings and a small percentage from agro-based and manufacturing industries.

  • Oil and grease, suspended solids and E. coli are the main pollutants in the coastal waters.

  • Contaminated water supplies (e.g., drinking, cooking) and contaminated seafood pose risks to human health, and result in increased infrastructure and health care costs.

  • The breeding, growth and quality of fish/shellfish is adversely effected by water pollution.
  • The deterioration of the quality of the coastal waters of Klang and Kuala Langat make these areas unsuitable for recreational purposes, such as swimming and diving, resulting in decline in tourism.

  • Pollution adversely affects fishermen, indigenous communities and individuals who depend on these areas as sources of livelihood, and directly affecting the economic resources of the country.

Solid waste

Indiscriminate dumping of solid waste causes pollution as well hampering efforts to utilise the services of river and coastal waters. Coastal and marine litter is an eyesore, and a nuisance for fishing vessels, fish cages, tourism and recreational activities and sea-based aquaculture. On land, indiscriminate dumping of rubbish causes health problems in the community, blocks rivers and drainage systems and is a source of land and water pollution.

Issues Threats
  • Pollution caused by solid waste mismanagement is a very serious environmental problem. Industrial, commercial and domestic activities produce solid waste, which enters coastal waters through the drainage systems and rivers.

  • Solid waste is capable of destroying the ecosystem, smothering the habitats, ruining the aesthetic value of coastal vistas and resulting in risks to human health.

  • Solid waste also obstructs the flow of water in storm water drains and rivers, causing floods.

  • Mismanagement of solid waste results in social, economic and environmental losses to the community.

Erosion and Sedimentation

Coastal erosion is caused by natural actions of waves and by human activities. As an illustration for the latter, recent cases of erosion along the coast of Pulau Indah have been brought about by sand dredging activities in the surrounding waters for land reclamation purposes. Coastal development activities without proper mitigating measures and controls expose the areas to erosion mechanisms. For example, the coastal zone between Sungai Sementa and Sungai Puloh has been severely eroded up to 120-200 meters since 1963 at a rate of 5 to7 meters per year. Erosion induces disturbances in coastal dynamics resulting in losses of land area in some parts and sedimentation and accumulation of land in other parts of the shoreline. The persistent changes in coastal dynamics will disturb and may eventually destroy the ecosystem of the mangrove forest.



  • Excessive erosion and sedimentation occur due to uncontrolled development activities along the coast and upstream water catchments areas.

  • Disruption of the process of photosynthesis.

  • Alteration of the benthic communities thereby effecting the natural life cycle in the ecosystem.

  • Shallowing of coastal waters, affecting navigation and access to ports.

  • Obstruction of natural flow and drainage, hence causing floods.

  • Changes in depth and positions of coastlines.

  • Accumulation of sediment into navigational routes of the port, resulting in increased dredging costs to deepen access routes.

  • Increased costs to build and maintain beach stabilization / protection walls and other coastal structures.

Destruction of habitats

The coastal areas of Port Klang and its islands are habitats for many wildlife and fish stocks. There is an area in Kapar, which has become a transit point for migratory birds from the continent of East Asia during certain seasons. Apart from providing shelter for many commercial fishery resources, such as shrimps, crabs and fish, the mangrove ecosystem acts as flood regulator, bio-filter of wastes, and carbon storage reservoir. The degradation and decline of habitats directly affects food supply, shelter for marine organisms and wildlife, and livelihood. Although many of these areas have been gazetted as forest reserve to preserve their ecosystems, there have been cases where these habitats are degazetted for development purposes. Studies have shown that declining mangrove habitats due to extensive development will have adverse impacts on the fishing industry in terms of decreasing amounts of fish catch.



  • Natural habitats provide important functions, such as sanctuaries and nurseries for fish, shellfish, and other marine habitats.

  • The destruction of mangrove forests and peat swamps, due to clearing of land for agriculture, logging and other development works, will result in losses of ecological functions such as breeding grounds and nurseries for a variety of marine life as well as a natural defense against coastal erosion.

Overexploitation of Resources



  • Usage of illegal fishing gear

  • Encroaching into other fishing areas, contravening the conditions of fishing licenses.

  • Illegal logging in mangrove forests, cutting of forest in upstream coastal and hinterland areas for housing, agriculture and other activities.

  • The stocks of flora and fauna are dwindling and biological diversity is threatened.

  • Dwindling resources adversely affect the livelihood of individuals who depend on the natural resources, resulting in increased poverty.

  • The functions of forests as natural erosion buffers, water catchments areas and genetic banks are lost.

by Susanne Chi

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