No dead rivers in Sarawak, but water quality is a concern — Len Talif

Len Talif fielding questions from reporters.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, March 5: There are no dead rivers in Sarawak, although water quality in several rivers in major towns across the state need to be addressed.

Urban Development and Resources Assistant Minister, Datu Len Talif Salleh, said water quality in Sg Padungan and Sg Bedil are considered the worst in Sarawak, but the building of the centralised sewerage system in Kuching will improve river conditions.

He added that the sewerage system project, commissioned in 2008, would ensure that domestic waste, categorised as black water, is treated before being released into the river system.

Citing Sg Miri and Sg Bintangor, Kuching, as among the rivers that need attention, he added that the state government is making efforts to improve the quality of the river system.

“The general condition of rivers in Sarawak is not that bad and considering the efforts that have been taken such as the building of the centralised sewerage system in Kuching which will improve the river network especially Sg Sarawak, Sg Padungan, Sg Bintangor including Sg Bedil and Sg Tabuan.

“The river system across Sarawak is still categorised as good for consumption. There are no dead rivers,” he told reporters after officiating at the River Pollution and Conservation Seminar here today.

Len Talif added that environmental authorities are carrying out educational programmes to stop villagers from discarding rubbish into the river, especially villages situated along the river network in urban areas.

He said local councils such as Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), as well as waste management company Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, will provide facilities to dispose domestic waste.

Touching on the Kuching centralised sewerage system, Len Talif said the first phase of the project, costing RM530 million and completed in 2015, covered the central business district in the city from the sewerage plant located near the Tun Salahuddin Bridge to Padungan area right up to Satok, and Wisma Saberkas.

“The first phase connects big offices and commercial buildings. After completing all the packages under the first phase, we will move on to the second phase involving residential areas.

“We have been using septic (system) but once all these are replaced with the sewerage system, conditions will definitely improve,” he continued.

Len Talif said a time frame has yet to be determined on how soon the second stage can commence, citing finance and public cooperation as factors which need to be looked into.

“There will be resistance from the some of the people, especially considering that this service would cost the public. It’s like services such as street lighting for example, where we have to charge the public and this will be the part where many would not be happy to oblige.

“There’s a lot of educational, awareness programmes which need to be carried out but it is better to bear the cost now than the remedial (work in dealing with polluted rivers) in the future,” he added.

Len Talif said almost all commercial buildings in Kuching are connected to the centralised sewerage system.

Package 2 of the Kuching City Wastewater Management System commenced on Sept 15, 2017, providing sewerage services in Petra Jaya areas such as Jalan Astana and Kpg Gita once completed in 2023. The infrastructure project was also implemented in the Darul Hana development area.

The state has also embarked on building a similar sewerage system for Miri, with Tudan earmarked as the site for its treatment plant.

The state Sewerage Services Department is also drawing up master plans for Kota Samarahan, Sarikei and Mukah, while the project in Sibu is waiting necessary funding to begin implementation. — DayakDaily