THE pollution at Sungai Tebrau, mainly due to illegal rubbish dumping, has caused marine life in the river to become almost non-existent, with only a few species of fish able to survive.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Vincent Chow said the pollution had turned the river into a low-oxygen environment, a condition, which few species could tolerate.
“Species like cockles and mussels can’t live in Sungai Tebrau because of the low oxygen environment.
“Only species like the non-native South American armoured catfish or suckermouth catfish can tolerate such an environment.”
He said the authorities needed to understand all aspects of the problems to effectively tackle the issue of river pollution in the state.
“Besides cleanliness, they need to understand the river’s water quality and aquatic life. A dirty river does not mean that aquatic life cannot thrive in it,” said Chow, who is also MNS Johor chairman.
He said it was important for all relevant agencies to be involved in efforts to resolve this issue.
“The involvement of agencies is needed to resolve this problem, not only certain agencies such as local councils or the Department of Environment.
“We have to take a holistic approach to solve this problem once and for all.”
He said the authorities could approach non-governmental organisations, such as MNS, in its efforts to solve the problem because they could have the know-how in the matter.
“MNS, for example, has a lot of information and knowledge on the matter and we are more than willing to help the authorities.
“All they need to do is to contact us and have a discussion on how we can help,” he told the New Straits Times.
Meanwhile, Chow said the authorities could take measures to reduce pollution in Sungai Tebrau.
“They could widen the river so that silt and mud can flow out.
“The authorities need to be serious in monitoring and enforcement to prevent people from dumping rubbish into the river.”
State Health, Environment, Education and Information Executive Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat last month announced that the state’s Economic Planning Unit and Department of Irrigation and Drainage had been tasked to coordinate the clean-up of Sungai Tebrau.
Ayub said the river, which was inundated with rubbish, would undergo a clean-up programme with help from representatives from government departments.
The issue of pollution in Sungai Tebrau was highlighted by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar after he took an airboat ride along the river and saw the rubbish being wantonly dumped into it.
Chow said he was grateful to the ruler for highlighting the matter.
“This has been going on for too long. Now is the time for the authorities to take action.”