‘Water quality worsening along shores’

National 2 minutes, 35 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

DETERIORATING water quality along Brunei shores in recent years could affect businesses such as the diving and fishing industries, said the general manager of Poni Divers.

Wong Thye Sing said it is not known what caused the water quality to worsen, but speculated that development works along the shores and rivers including bridge construction and land reclamation projects might have played a part.

“That is not good for us as our business relies on having good water visibility but hopefully when these projects are completed, the water quality and visibility will improve to the levels seen before the projects started,” he said in an interview.

Wong was speaking on the occasion of World Water Day, which carries the theme ‘Better Water, Better Jobs’ this year.

Wong said man-made pollution such as throwing household waste into rivers was a major source of water pollution.

“Too much of pollutants such as plastics and sewage run-offs in the water also decreases the water quality, which in turn affects the resources in the water that many people need for everyday life, not least drinking water.

“We have seen sofas and televisions floating down the rivers so these household items clearly came from people’s residences, not just from Kampong Ayer but also water villages in neighbouring Malaysia whose rivers also flow into Brunei Bay,” he said yesterday.

Wong urged the authorities to educate the public, both young and old, on water pollution to eliminate the problems of the past.

“Public cleanups do not make a big difference to the problem but serves only to raise the awareness among the people but there needs to be a bigger effort to teach people how far their man-made pollution affects other people who live and work in and around rivers and seas,” he said.

“If we have less rubbish in the rivers, the beaches will be nicer which will make them more of a tourist attraction and allow us to take advantage of Brunei’s development opportunities that come with it,” he said.

This year’s World Water Day, which falls today, focuses on how enough quantity and quality of water can change the lives of workers and their livelihoods that depend on it, and even transform societies and economies.

A professor from Institut Teknologi Brunei last year pointed out that the pollution to Brunei’s rivers, especially the Brunei River, is a major threat to enhancing the quality of the nation’s water resources and sustainability for the future.

Guo Zhenren, a civil engineering professor at ITB, said pollutants that are usually found on ground surfaces such as household waste account for 30 to 40 per cent of the total pollutants found in the country.

That total will rise as the country’s agricultural industry aims to ramp up production and as the population continues to grow in Brunei, especially in urban areas.

The Public Works Department yesterday held prayers to mark World Water Day at Masjid Ash-Shaliheen on Jln Kumbang Pasang. Deputy Minister of Development Dato Paduka Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar was the guest of honour at the prayers.

The Brunei Times