In Malaysia, rivers have been used as a source of water and various development needs. There is no denying that water is a very significant natural resources. Irrigation, industrial and domestic needs consume water while other development such as recreation, hydroelectric power generation, and transportation rely on the quality and availability of water (Talib, Ariffin, & Baharom, n.d.). However it seems that humans have not realized how significant it is. Deprivation of their quality and ability to perform important functions bring major consequences results in long-term economic losses and affecting the population’s quality of life as a whole. The way human use and manage rivers can cause great environmental damage that adversely affects the rivers.
STATUS OF WATER RESOURCES IN MALAYSIA
Even though Malaysia has been blessed with ample supply of water resources, non-uniform temporal and spatial rainfall distribution and increasing occurrences of river pollution have caused numerous crises in water supply services. The quality of river in Malaysia has worsened during the last several years. In recent years, more water is drawn to meet increasing demand, but more destruction results from water that is put back into them by communities, adding sewage, and other effluents and waste. The dirtiest river in the country, in terms of the quantity of rubbish found is Sungai Klang, Sungai Penchala, Sungai Segget and Sungai Ayer Merah in Johor, and Sungai Jelutong, Sungai Juru and Sungai Prai in Penang (Aruna, 2014). These rivers have been categorised as ‘dead’ as they are unable to sustain any form of aquatic life including fish and aquatic plants.
Figure 1: Children playing in Sungai Penchala, Selangor
Nowadays, water pollution is the largest threats to rivers. The reduction in river water quality is mainly caused by human activities such as logging and manufacturing industries. Domestic and industrial sewage, agro-based industries, road and housing construction, suspended solids from mining, clearing of forest and heavy metals from factories also cause major changes in water quality and the ecological status of water.
Urbanisation is one of the sources of pollution as it significantly contributes to the decrease in quality of river water. Urban development usually come in the form of sedimentation, organic pollution, rubbish, and solid waste. The problem begins when forests are cut within a basin that leads to sedimentation and soil erosion.
Lack of proper sanitation facilities and inefficient waste disposal system result in waste and sewage end up in the rivers. Rivers that are contaminated by sewage contain high levels of organic pollutants, and they become breeding grounds for harmful viruses and bacteria may cause outbreaks of water borne diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera that are detrimental to human (Azwad, n.d.). Sewage pollution also cause mass die-offs or loss of reproductive ability and...