MORE than 100 river rangers comprising students, residents, members of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) and government agency officers have pledged to monitor and protect Sungai Pinang’s cleanliness.
The rangers made the pledge while taking part in a one-day Sungai Pinang River Care training programme at the Penang Botanic Gardens’ Pavilion Auditorium.
State Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) River Basin and Coastal Zone Management assistant Maimunah Abu Hassan Ashaari said students from five schools — SMK Abdullah Munshi, SMK Agama (L) Al-Mashoor, SMK (L) Methodist, SMK (P) Methodist and SJKC Convent Datuk Keramat — took part in the river care project.
“We got these students involved because their schools are located nearby a river,” she said during the training programme.
Maimunah also said members of four Rukun Tetangga from Jalan York, Lorong Kulit Lembu, Kampung Dodol and Jalan Sungai Pinang were involved.
River care: USM Environmental Engineering doctorate candidate Azamuddin Arsad (second left) showing how to conduct a biomonitering of insects and their habitat at Sungai Air Terjun
Friends Chuah Kare Bee and Ng Chun Wei, both 14, from SMK (L) Methodist, were excited when they managed to find fresh water shrimps in the Sungai Air Terjun nearby the Gardens.
“We learnt this morning that if shrimps are found in a river, it means the water quality is excellent,” Chuah said.
He added that the training was interesting as they learnt the methods to check oxygen and nitrate levels in river water.
During the training, the rangers learnt about factors which contributed to river pollution and also about river auditing methods.
They were also taught how to monitor river conditions, protection measures and how to check a river’s health status by measuring its physical, chemical and biological levels.
A demonstration being held on collecting water samples
Maimunah said the programme was divided into two sections — theory in the morning and the practical part at Sungai Air Terjun in the afternoon.
She said the theory and practical training exposed participants on how to monitor and help recover the condition of Sungai Pinang.
“The main problem of the river is serious pollution due to uncontrolled waste dumping and also flash floods during heavy rain,” she said.
Global Environment Care’s (GEC) river care programme coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan demonstrated and guided participants on the correct method of collecting samples and carrying out various tests.
The training programme was funded by HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad in partnership with GEC, and supported by the state DID and the Penang Municipal Council.
Also involved in the programme held on Sunday were the Department of Environment, Universiti Sains Malaysia, state Education Department, National Integration and Unity Department, Centre for Community and Environmental Development and Water Watch Penang.
Rivers in the country are categorised under five classes where Class 1 rivers are the cleanest and Class 5 rivers are the most polluted.
Carried out in three phases, the Sungai Pinang River Care Programme is a three-year project to enhance community participation in the protection and rehabilitation of the severely polluted river.