DOE strives to save Sembrong Dam

NUSAJAYA: Putting up a more than 10km-long fence and gazetting it as a water catchment area are among the measures proposed by the Department of Environment (DOE) to help revive Sembrong Dam, which is “slowly dying”.

Another suggestion to the state government is to set up a special multi-agency taskforce to carry out strict enforcement against those who have illegally encroached into the dam area.

Other measures are to review whether it is suitable for a pig farm to be within the area and to compel the 3,480ha of Kluang Modern Farming to strictly adhere to the environment management plan.

The Star had previously reported that the dam – a major water source for some 120,000 people in the districts of Kluang and parts of Batu Pahat – was “slowly dying” due to an algae bloom, which threatened to halt water production and the existence of all marine life in it.

The dam, which was built for flood mitigation in 1984 and managed by the Drainage and Irrigation Department, has been providing water for human consumption since 1990.

Confirming the report, Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said DOE’s suggestions would be tabled at the weekly exco meeting.

It was up to the state government, he said, to decide on the next course of action.

“The mentri besar is committed to tackling this problem and we are doing our best to resolve it,” he said in an interview.

Ayob said he had personally visited the place and chaired meetings on the issue.

“I want to stress that this dam was initially planned for flood mitigation and not as a source for water.

“That is why farming was allowed around it,” he said, agreeing that something needed to be done before the situation deteriorated.

An environment impact assessment (EIA) report, he said, was carried out in the past for Kluang Modern Farming but had not been adhered to.

The Kluang Modern Farming is a joint venture project between the government and the private sector to increase the country’s food supply.

“We have told them to improve on the farming activities and adhere to the regulations,” he said, adding that the state government would need at least one-and-a-half years to get everything done with a budget of millions of ringgit, especially for fencing.

The dam covers some 775ha and supplies about 55 million litres of treated water via its Sembrong Barat water treatment plant daily.

Due to indiscriminate farming, agricultural activities and the planting of oil palm trees – which covers at least 87% of the dam’s 130 sq km catchment area – it is slowly “dying” due to eutrophication or better known as algae bloom.

According to a recent study by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the phosphorous level at the dam was 92.28% on the Carison Trophic Index compared with normal levels of between 70% and 80%.

Phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium are widely used in fertilisers and pesticides.


Photo: In danger: The Sembrong Dam has been slowly deteriorating due to an algae bloom.

View original article at: DOE strives to save Sembrong Dam


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