Pahang rivers most polluted with 449 shutdowns

The country’s water treatment facilities also recorded the highest number of shutdowns in the country

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by BERNAMA

MINING and logging activities in Pahang have resulted in heavy river pollution that robbed the state of 2,816 hours of water supply in 2018 alone.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) commissioner Faizal Parish Abdullah said Pahang’s water treatment facilities also recorded the highest number of shutdowns in the country due to a series of pollution cases.

He said to date, land development, mining and logging activities have resulted in 449 temporary shutdowns at the treatment plants in the state.

“Pahang has the most water treatment shutdowns due to the pollution of water intake.

“We cannot ignore the quality of the water source and it is the most important matter to focus on if we are talking about preservation because it is our drinking water source. We must make sure that the water quality is good enough,” Faizal said.

He added that as of June this year, water disruptions in Pahang stood at 915 hours as a result of 124 shutdowns, surpassing Johor with 833 hours from 20 shutdowns.

Faizal said securing pollutants from entering the upstream river is a critical step in conserving the water supply as 80% of the water that goes to the treatment plants is drawn from the rivers.

“The source of our water supply is commonly mistakenly (thought to be) coming from the dam. In fact, 80% of the water is drawn from the rivers,” he said.

Last year, Pahang’s Department of Environment (DoE) confirmed pollution at Sungai Terpai as the stream was stretching along the logging area in Sungai Lembing.

The forest around Sungai Lembing had been exploited as the trees were being felled ruthlessly by both legal and illegal logging companies.

A newspaper report recently revealed that water at Sungai Terpai had turned murky and yellowish in colour as a result of logging activities around Sungai Lembing which had expanded to 500ha.

In addition to logging activities, Pahang has also been the hub for bauxite mining activities, which has a triple threat to the water, air and soil around the mining area.

Due to the rampant environmental pollution, the mining activities in Pahang have been suspended since 2016.

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh has continuously been expressing her concerns over the effect of bauxite mining in Pahang.

According to Pahang’s DoE report in August 2015, the water quality of four rivers — namely Sungai Riau, Sungai Mabok, Sungai Pinang and Sungai Pengorak — were at Class V, suggesting a heavily polluted waterway and unsafe for aquatic life.

However, the federal government lifted the moratorium last February due to the industry’s potential lucrative revenue generation.

In reaching a middle ground for the mining activities, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the Cabinet had agreed to draft a new standard operating procedure (SOP) that covers all aspects, from mining to export.

He added that the SOP will only apply to Pahang first before the ministry reaches a measure to extend it to other states such as Johor and Terengganu.