Monday, 21 November 2016

Talk: Colloquium on Water & Technology

The Water Issue - WAKE UP! We need them, use them, release them and even treat them. We have capital resources and technologies to treat and 'revitalize' them. We have laws which regulate wastewater discharges into inland and marine waters. Ironically, the majority of our rivers which flow through any human-oriented activities are contaminated. Some rivers flow into water catchment areas. Reports of halts in potable water distribution to the public, due to pollution at source, are prevailing. Water issues is a sub-factor of the big equation of environmental impact - Extreme Weather vis-s-vis Global Climate Change. Aren't we suppose sense the urgency? Here's what we must begin with, at the least.

The Wet Reality
Well, everyone who were and are on this planet knew that we can't defend ourselves from the 'force' of nature. The force of the ONE Almighty Creator. Having said that, aren't we gifted with brains? Where are our common senses? Every oceanographer, marine biologist, ecologist, zoologist, botanist, fishery scientist, etc., knew that the earth was inundated and submerged more than once before. Here we are today, facing risk of progressing rise in sea water again. Should we relinquish our survival holds and concede to be in the deluge. The Noah's Ark is already ruined and kaput, remember? Are we supposed to 'just be complacent' to this Act of HIS? I believe not!. Instead, we are suppose to repent, aren't we? We seek for HIS forgiveness by conducting sound environmental mitigation in every element of our livelihood here. It's a conscience that simple. Deeds not words.

The Phenomenon 
Water is one of the element. We are being blessed with marine water and fresh water. We need the liquified version of fresh water. Its solid form is still the glasier. Now, these mega freshwater reservoir is slowly melting its way into the ocean. Blaming it on those greenhouse-gases and ozone depleting layer evasive jerk called CFC won't solve the problem timely. It reciprocates between environmental scare and politics, whereby, entities orbiting around them are business opportunists. Who took samples of the ozone layer and journal it anyway?
Water is one phenomenal and magical element of life. It literally passes through any media. It permeates across the tightest RO membranes which submicronic viruses gets stuck! It's also the greatest solvent known in chemistry. For that, most natural medical treatment seeker consume plain water first thing in the morning. Its solvent and permeative effect flushes human body systems, thus, retard if not gradually cure ailments like gout and arthritis. Steadily be less dependent on those pills. Gulp in 1 litre of plain water first thing in the morning. Even before brushing our teeth! It's unbelievably amazing. That's one wet phenomena on the force of water. The legendary element of life.

It was certainly an elation to be back in the lecture room 401, now called 'epsilon-401'. Microbial genetics was lectured by Dr. Sulong in this very room more than 30 years ago. School of Applied Sciences is now Faculty of Applied Sciences. An array of evolved specializations have emerged including forensic chemistry. Put those criminals at bay!

Wastewater is a Resource. Back on earth in Malaysia, the irony is getting more annoying day by day. This is a nation endeavoring its way to be developed by the year 2020. Its about 3 more years as this article gets written. Rivers are still number one source of drinking water as much as being the wastewater dumping resort. I'm not interested in sharing figures and graphs of the river qualities here. (One can acquire them from the 'Jabatan Pengairan dan Saliran, Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara, Jabatan Alam Sekitar Malaysia' or other governing agencies.) I believe that there is no such thing as waste. That's it. Even those Scheduled Wastes, a legal classification of most hazardous waste, are resources! Similarly, wastewater or treated wastewater are resources. We are responsible to sustain their natural eminence! 

The Talking Point in Objectives.
We have adequate environmental technologist and engineers who were 'born' from this faculty of this and many other universities around the country. In addition, this nation already have environmental laws, water and wastewater governance agencies, public prosecutors, judicial courts, and lawyers and many other expertise. They are ready to get these done. They are ready, to follow orders. Orders come from policy executors. They follow orders from policy makers! What is transpiring?

One Lost Heritage - my Ikan Laga
It's now or never, bring back those glorious days when we were able to see freshwater fishes swimming in drains. I recalled the 'Siamese Fighting Fish'  or Beta Splendens and B. tomi(1) which were abundant not only in village streams and ditches but also in small towns. 
In the early 60s, I lived in hospital quarters of the Muar District Hospital in Johor, Malaysia where these 'ikan laga' as commonly known here were plenty. I only need an old coffee filter, walk about 15 feet to a monsoon drain and scoop the little fish up and keep it in a glass jar. The little thing lasted for several days before it went belly up and float. I can't comprehend the situation as to why it lived well in the ditch but couldn't survive in my jar. It was the tap water after all, then I thought. Fifteen years later I found out about dissolved oxygen and aeration and how my 'ikan laga' died! Soon, other factors, termed 'parameters' like COD, BOD, trace metals, salts etc. broadened my perspective. Today, those hospital quarter houses and monsoon drain weren't there when I took a snappy drive around the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital (current name) complex during Eid Fitri 2016. These are amongst our lost heritage as we are ardent demolishers than preservers, apparently. However, I'm relieved and pleased to see some restored old colonial wards still being maintained and in good use. I recall seeing my late mom walking her way to work from the quarter house then. As soon as she disappeared from my sight the 'Ikan Laga' hunt begun. 

Objective-1; What's Urgent? Know our rivers! Build CWTP!
In accomplishing the aim as indicated as the title of this small talk is a set of six objectives. 
1st objective: I'm suggesting centralized wastewater treatment system (CWTP) for each industrial area, commercial area and residences. It could be a huge industrial effluent treatment plant cum sewage treatment plant for an industrial zone.
Therefore, industries which discharge industrial effluent may be required to pretreat to minimum allowable standards prior final discharge into dedicated effluent pipes to the centralized treatment plant (CTP). The pretreatment may include some simple physical separation of coarse particles, grit, sand, rubbish and especially oil and grease. This is usually termed as the Primary Treatment. It helps to ensure that effluent which is channeled to the CTP would not scale or clog pipes along its way. In Malaysia a competent person should be able to control this simple facility well. In some cases they are not dedicated to operate the full system, instead, as second fiddle to outsourced contractor. Therefore, the CTP will receive pretreated wastewater as influent into their presumably huge equalization tank as to cater for the diversified types of effluent from those different types of sources respectively. Thus the CTP shall be equipped with full scale wastewater treatment schemes suited to incoming fluctuating loads of influent. I envision schemes like primary - secondary - tertiary - reuse/recycle CTS water 'product' and its sludge. This benefits all. Businesses which discharge wastewater are now able to scale down their existing system from full scale to the bare minimum of primary or pretreatment schemes only.
I was once shared a fact that the cost of operating the industrial effluent treatment system here ranges from RM12,000.00 to RM30,000.00 per month comprising of chemicals and electrical energy expenses, depending on treatment size and methods. This does not include consumable items and parts from its maintenance, emergency situations such as power supply trip and of cause special allowances for competent persons, if any. In short but subjectively, companies save money! Please feel free to ask any living HSE/ESH/QHSSE managers if their budget proposal for maintenance and operating the industrial effluent treatment plants are well received by company's MD, financial controller, accounts manager or the procurement. How often were they greeted with warm applauses or bright charming smiles? It depends on where in an organization's chart that the wastewater treatment unit is placed. If, it's under the operation's department, then, its head of department would usually be the unpopular figure to top management, especially the finance. This is for a very simple reason - there's no R.O.I (return on investment) for any purchase of environmental control equipment. Businesses is about making the comfortable margins. It's business first, not environment first, including green technology businesses. 
Unless, the treated effluent is being recycled and reuse. So, some actually recycled their treated wastewater on-site for a while using the R.O (reverse osmosis) only to learn more about clear looking treated water. It had the nasty effects of Dissolved Solids (DS) in such tight membrane filtration technique. The RO membrane tubes aren't economically viable here. It turned out to be cheaper to buy from public water supplies than to recycle treated wastewater, for now! Well, for now, yes it is, until a time, which is why we are here to discuss. A time when clean water supplies to our homes and these businesses gets unbearable. A time when it's too late to capture what I and many others have implored here and elsewhere! Conclusively, let the CTP be the main and final centralized water treatment and purification centre (CWTP) which produce clean water for reuse, at least at this point of discussion, zero water discharge

River Ambient Quality & Simple Geomorphology
Inevitably, we need to know our rivers well enough to ensure that all measures for its rehabilitation are applicable and relevant. Its ambient characteristics which must be taken into account are;

  • ambient quality (from origin upstream to downstream end);
    • Physical indicators
      • temperature;
      • conductivity;
      • total suspended solids (TSS);
      • total dissolved solids (TDS);
      • turbidity;
      • odor;
      • color;
      • taste;
    • Chemical indicators
      • pH;
      • COD;
      • BOD;
      • DO;
      • TH;
      • Heavy metals;
      • nitrates;
      • orthophosphate;
      • pesticides;
      • surfactants;
    • Biological indicators
      • E. coli;
      • coliforms;
      • Ephemeroptera;
      • Plecoptera;
      • Mollusca;
      • Trichoptera. 

  • contemporary geomorphology; "Modern researchers aim to draw out quantitative "laws" that govern Earth surface processes, but equally, recognize the uniqueness of each landscape and environment in which these processes operate."(2)
    • current flow pattern; illustration(3)
    • pollution loads;
    • quantify 'threshold' pollutant load;
    • identify 'acceptable margin' prior threshold values;
      • BOD load;
      • COD load;
      • Suspended solid load;
      • Heavy metal load;
      • Nitrate load;
These are crucial information of our river system before we could set out permissible effluent discharge qualities from final discharge points of those CWTP, if zero water discharge is inevitable. These ambient qualities aren't just data but must be interpreted in vast extent that we understand our rivers.  

We need to get this law to serve its own intent!
What's the intent of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974? Kindly refer to the first paragraph of this law which says "An Act relating to the prevention, abatement, control of pollution and enhancement of the environment, and for purposes connected therewith."(4) 
This was 'the preach' for anyone who began reading this law. It's very objective, clear and positive with regards to its legislative environmental responsibility. But, since its entry into force from 1974 with subsidiary regulations in question in this context of discussion, didn't meet any of those three words; prevent-abate-control and the enhancement of the environment! The Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent) Regulations 2009 isn't profound at all. Treated effluent released from final discharge points of almost all industrial effluent treatment systems (IETS) are within the legal standards. But, the qualities of our rivers aren't improving, in fact, progressively deteriorating. Why is this so?
Pollution occurs as a result of pollution loads - not concentration! Pollution load = Pollutant Concentration X Flow rate. Our current industrial effluent and sewage regulations sets permissible concentrations alone. So, a factory which is discharging say COD concentration at an average of 150 mg/l at a rate of say 50 m3/day may not pose a distinct impact to rivers like the Skudai River in Johor. But, if there's like 200 of such factories which releases the same quantum along the stretch of its basin, what do you think? You're welcome to calculate and find the additional and continual pollution load that enters this river. A publication from the Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW, Australia shares one of its example which interests me for this discussion. It's displayed on page 19/79 as follows; Calculating actual pollutant loads discharged to waters where Vd = 0
1. If sampling is conducted on a day when Vd = 0, BUT there is some discharge during the ‘sampling frequency period’, determine a time-weighted load (Lt) instead, for that sample only as follows:
Lp = Cp x Vp / 1000
Lt = Lp / n
Lp = calculated load of the pollutant (kg) over minimum sampling frequency period
Cp = concentration of the pollutant (mg/L) on the day when Vd = 0
Vp = total flow (kL) over minimum sampling frequency period (as determined by Table 4)
Lt = day’s observed load of the pollutant (kg) when Vd = 0
n = number of days in the minimum sampling frequency period (as determined by Table 4)
Vp should be calculated using methods outlined in Table 5.
2. Sum the observed daily and/or time-weighted loads.
3. Divide the total from Step 2 by the total volume (kL) for those days – use Vt = Vp / n to obtain average daily volume flow during sampling period when Vd = 0.
4. Multiply the flow-weighted concentration from Step 3 (kg/kL) by the total volume of the licence fee period (kL). 
The Faculty of Applied Sciences of UiTM produces
Environmental Technologists, Forensic Scientists and
many other specializations for the world!

These and other equations are 'snacks' for our environmental, chemical, mechanical and civil engineers. If you're a politician when reading this, then you're as lost as I am when going through such numeric and alphabetic grammar with lots of assumptions and constants. Unless, you are 'that' politician who is also a scientist, then, I'm grateful to meet you here. Thus, in such a hurry let me call upon your name and say "wake up!". This is simply because you knew the law of nature. This is where your political prowess is in need, indeed. It's now or never! The government executive teams already have their scientific resources. 
These high-scorer brainies, whose tertiary education were usually sponsored by institutions especially the  J.P.A, are now in service. Many of them are in the various government sectors including the Department of Environment, Malaysia. Please get them into this task and listen to them! They know the subject matter better. They are well trained. Politician would gain higher political mileage when brains 'behind them' are allowed to wield meaningful accomplishment. This is for the people in long hauls. This is long-haul politics, pardon me. Also, listen to the people! Do it right the first time! Get on board! Be prepared in every 'stopovers'! 

Objectives 2 & 3; The Legal Standards/Limits Amendment - use these 'brains'
So, after completing objective-1, our team of scientists now know our rivers well enough. They use these data interpretations to program computer modellings and make good predictions from it. They could be guided into predicting river characteristics in extreme weather conditions and if it influences our groundwater. Next is deploy these brainy government officials into integrated teams; each assigned for specific river or a number of rivers based on objectives-2 and 3 above. Each team should consists of experts from various disciplines; extending from biologists to lawyers. Scientists such as ecologist, environmental chemists, ecotoxicologists will determine in quantified rationalization of 'how much more could this river take whilst sustaining current qualities, if not improve itself'.
“Automated Water Analyser Computer
Supported System” (AWACSS)
This master baseline information which I'd refer to as the river's threshold shall be the main reference in promulgating discharge standards from CWTPs established along its basin. Don't look back from here! It's also time to have a version of the CEMS for these rivers immediately after the CWTS are commissioned to operate. A system nicked as AWACSS appeared when I googled for continuous river water monitoring system as in the adjacent illustration. I my days of study it was more popularly termed as the telemetry system and operated via satellites. So, t
he Malaysian government have them all. Keep these capable and brainy officials away from any political inclination or influence. Allow them the luxury to think, speak, propose, rebut and avoid frustrating them! Simultaneously, government leaders must steer towards realizing these environmental objectives. It's about water, after all. Politics have recently dried taps. Water irrigates politics. No water no politics!  

The Iskandar Region: From the Sorrow of Sungai Skudai to a Proposed Groundwater Well. What?
The Sungai Skudai's ecosystem is now facing depleting amount of life-supporting aquatic stocks. Local traditional fishermen are being deprived of their means which affects their socioeconomic pattern. Yes, they got the BR1M and they thank the country leaders. But, it doesn't last them the week's family meal. They are skillful local tribal or aborigines fishermen who can't 'google' for other job if they don't find fish. According to some of them, they had to do part-time security guards apart from other odd-jobs offered by sub-sub's sub-contractors. I think now they need to compete with Nepalese. The river mouth is shrinking or shallowing due to continual sediment transport plus reclamation activities. Its mangrove is disappearing. Meantime, while having this problem at hand, The Iskandar Development Region is looking into tapping groundwater resources.
The Managed Aquifer Recharge (5) 
Of cause, the aquifer is a freshwater reservoir, but, we haven't dealt with its contaminants (or potential pollutants) which infiltrates from surface waters which runs over it. Also, we haven't got the groundwater regulations which legalizes aquifer extract under this act still, have we?
"Specific regulatory or design criteria for the establishment of MAR systems and a complete quantitative risk assessment framework for the evaluation and operation of MAR systems should be established"(5) Here, I need to remind myself, readers of this article, the UTM hydro-geologists and the enterprising Iskandar Development planners and other related parties about tapping groundwater for domestic, business and industrial consumption. You know that aquifers are not in metal or RC tanks which can be welded or sealed when they leak whereby their leaks are detectable. It's a moist layer of soil beneath the land surface surrounded by rock formations and being influenced by pressure, temperature and gravity.
The aquifer is a dynamic ecosystem and a sub-system to the entire water cycle. Its behaviour in this hydrological geological settings consisting of multilayered 'profiles' beneath the land surface is unseen, thus, usually taken for granted. Lack of data but immense urgency are causing us to make hypothesis of which over time proved us wrong. “When unconfined aquifers are pumped, the water withdrawal leads to a drop in the water table, and the pore spaces become unsaturated. Pumping in confined aquifers decreases the water pressure, but the pore space remains fully saturated.”(8)  We like to assume that we own the aquifer since we have purchased the bulk of its 'surface land'. So, we can dig it as we like until we get that high pressure water of an artesian well. This freshwater reservoir termed groundwater and aquifer is still beyond our comprehension. The vast knowledge which we acquired from academic mainstreams were often defeated in practice. The NATURE knew more and it reacts to our act. (Was that Newton's first law? Second? gee ..) 
Well, we thought it's just about water entering at so-called 'recharge zones', flows into confined and also unconfined reservoirs, and exit into adjacent water bodies like lakes, rivers and the ocean, evaporate, condense and precipitate back onto land surface and those recharge zones. The equation seems simple but we still couldn't find the exact quantified equation for its equilibriumThe level of the water table can naturally change over time due to changes in weather cycles and precipitation patterns, stream-flow and geologic changes, and even human-induced changes, such as the increase in impervious surfaces on the landscape.” “Excessive pumping can lower the water table so much that the wells no longer supply water—they can "go dry.”(7)  Data assembled so far is still a distant from comprehending this! 
# What are the aquifers' media variety and their respective sensitivities?
# Are the recharge zones recharging proportionally to displacements from wells?
# How far is its flow, length of retention and diversity of transformation?
# How does it react to changing environmental ambience induced by human activities? 
# What effect is derived from fractured consolidated rocks which binds them?
# What extent is the aquifers' flow being altered by urbanization?
When these and many other trivial matters are known, then, we won't end up with dry wells by mistake

My final point to discourage aquifer exploitation is this; The aquifer is also a 'water jacket' wrapped within bedrock formation beneath the earth surface. It serves as temperature buffer zone which regulates and maintain temperatures on the earth surface at optimum range in manners conducive for life support. The 'core' or 'mantel' inside our earth is very-very hot that soil and rock glows! These red hot molten substance which exists at high thermal pressure sometimes found their way out through volcano eruptions. So, imagine if these bedrock which wraps the 'cooling water aquifer' gets ruptured via human engineered incursion such as during deep well aquifer boring, bore-piling for high-rise civil structures, etc. Wouldn't these simply aggravate cracks within and through bedrock walls? In layman's eye, imagine our car's engine which uses coolant-water fluid to ensure it operation is not overheated. The combustion chamber is operating at very high temperatures enough to cause thermal expansion on the aluminium casted engine block. The cooling effect is achieved by designing 'water jackets' around the combustion chamber which cools the circulating engine oil vis-a-vis the entire engine. My last experience of having to stop my car for overheating was a couple of years ago near Bentong, Pahang. One of its water-tubing joint was compromised and cooling fluid leaked out and raised the temperature gauge to almost red-line! Similarly, the aquifer or groundwater is our earth's water jacket as much as in the case of a car engine! Naturally, the instability of tectonic plates is already an uncertainty in standby. Would we choose to sum up the aggregate of these risks? Their cumulative force of effect is probably in exponential scales. Currently, the gradual increase in temperature of the earth surface which we called the 'Global Warming' is due to these constant release of heat from these sources. At least, and with much humbleness, this is what I hypothesize of the main causes of global warming
#1 Aquifer's water are being transformed into vapors and released as 'geiss' which surfaces through microfractures in bedrocks. This is additional heat to the earth surface;
#2 Earth surface are covered with thermophilic construction materials such as concrete and tar. The sun's radiant heat is absorbed readily, thus, retaining heat for longer period and distort natural cooling;
#3 Rain water falls on civil structures which blocks them from infiltrating into the top soil surfaces thus prevented cooling of earth surfaces. The soil layer beneath these buildings and roads are deprived of the natural cooling and thus gets warmer;
#4 Land surfaces which are built into cities and its respective infrastructures are losing its strongest sheet of naturally engineered foundation - the bedrock.  It not only had lost its integrity but enables heat to dissipate onto earth surfaces, thus, increasing its ambient temperatures;
# 6 Dislocated, altered or tampered flow of groundwater; causing areas deprived of it to become heated up and dry;
# 7 Blame it on GHGs.

Important Inference: The Earth's Water Cycle has Changed and Our House is Warming. Circa fifty years ago in the early 70s, I recalled going out of the hospital quarter house to check on my 'Ikan Laga' at a nearby monsoon drain wearing a sweatsuit to keep warm.
My favourite of Ikan laga
It was rather chilling at 7.00am, the exact time which my mom is already at work whenever she's in the morning shifts. I think it could be around 20 to 25 Degree Celsius before reaching 30s at noon. I wore sweatshirts or pullovers over my school uniform while waiting for the trishaw or the school bus. The bus needs no air-conditioners. The trishaw either! There's no air-conditioners in school too. I remember, in one occasion when I needed to walk pass the 'common room' and the headmaster's office at every period ending to ring the school bell. It's the 'call of duty' for school prefects. The school is Ismail School Muar and its bell's switch was just beside the headmaster's office. It was the most honorable job for a primary six twelve year old. I wasn't a school prefect but got this 'job' for a week as a relief for a sick prefect. He was sitting next to me in class, so, I was picked just out of his convenience. I don't see any air-conditioners, air purifiers or air fresheners whatsoever in the headmaster's entire office! There were just a couple of ceiling fans perhaps left by the British. Today, we can't sleep without the air-conditioners. Automobiles, workplaces, shopping malls and all buildings and 'containers' where human dwells must be equipped with air conditioners.

Nonetheless but ironically some of us still don't take this very fact that we are living in a globally changing climate world. It's generating extreme weather. It's about extreme drought and extreme flood. Precipitation-Absorption-Evaporation-Condensation is now an imbalance equation. We have deprived the earth surface its surface area to absorb rain water. I use to analogize this issue in most of my trainings. I'd usually say "If I was a drop of rain way back in 1970s in Kuala Lumpur, then, I'd be free falling happily onto canopies of trees, grasses, soft soils or dive with perfect-10 scores into lakes or rivers. But, being the same drop of water today, I would stop and stare before 'jumping off' my mother cloud's blown down belly. It's safety first. I have to wear PPE because I'd be falling onto concrete rooftops and the MRR2 Highway! After which, we have to 'surface run-off' to the lowest point of KL city and assemble there as flash flood. If we are the fast and furious lots of rain water, we could even outsmart the KL-Smart-Tunnel!" 

Sincere suggestion to Urban Developers including the Iskandar Development.
TAP THE RAIN WATER! We have more roofs than arable land now, haven't we? I think you should start it now before the Highnesses of The Johore Sultanate finds more 'free time' out of football and start reading articles like this as one of His Highnesses' Royal Concern of his State Matters! Malaysian Royalties are being highly regarded for their sound education and training too. So, I've warned you. Well, UTM too has got it all - The elite Engineering Faculty. As for our Dearest Politicians, please honor me the privilege to implore: "Cut the Crab. Don't dry it."

We are not 'there' yet. 
On one end, we have the law, but, not the correct discharge standards, while, on the other we want to technologize, but, not covered by the existing law. Hence, the intent of the Act is seemingly superficial or simply defeated. Therefore, in view of sustaining current qualities, if not improving them, we summarize this part of my plight for these inseparable tasks;
  • Learn about our rivers;
  • Amend Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent) Regulations 2009 by establishing river-specific discharge limits in place of the Fifth Schedule, Regulation 11 (1) - (a) and (b);
  • Amend Environmental Quality (Sewage) Regulations 2009 by establishing river-specific discharge limits in place of the Second Schedule, Regulation 7 (1) - (a) to (f);
  • Build CWTPS;
  • Apply new discharge standards to each CWTP.
Hence, this is the kick-off to conservation, if not rehabilitation of our rivers. It's only the beginning of a 'long-haul'. It consists of a lengthy and relentless bout; geosciences versus geopolitics - contemporary sciences versus contemporary politics. May the result make us smile. 

Objectives 4; Illegal Factories; provide alternative site, relocate, legalize and monitor.

Environmental pollution involving illegal factories is still a core factor despite decades of structured urbanization exercises. The term illegal is perceived commonly as follows;
  1. absence of business registration;
  2. absence of business license;
  3. absence of permits or approval from local authorities, municipalities and/or local agencies of the various federal governing bodies;
  4. occupying land space or buildings with inappropriate use or 'title deeds';
  5. one or all the above; or other reasons.
During the late 80s and early 90s especially amidst the entry into force of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) regulated requirements, various government agencies began to form Integrated Committees to manage EIA-related premises and activities. Then, it was coordinated by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). This concept of integrated management were cascaded down to state governance and their respective districts to address business or operating licenses and permits. I believe it's still in practice. The DOE's regional or district DOE offices sends representatives as 'ex-officio' members. Pollution prevention and control is DOE's ultimate concern. Their opinion and suggestion are usually being heard well. The DOE's environmental law is a federal law which is intangible to any state governance. The state governments have their respective 'Structural Plan' which assists them in land-use management. They are well documented blue-print of development planning to ensure 'things are at the right place' and prevent any conflict to land-use. However, such meetings are point of convergence on applications from individual factories or premises. Effluent or sewage discharges are seen as their respective individual point of discharge with corresponding legal footing, imposed as they shall. The totality of impact to receiving streams or rivers aren't reviewed or explained. The 'P.A.T' which stands for Penilaian Awal Tapak (Preliminary Site Assessment), is a standard procedure for the DOE when addressing this matter. It is a physical observation of the proposed site with respect to noticeable environmental receptors around it. However, data pertaining to existing pollution load of its rivers isn't the standard reference in such surveys as it may not readily exist. 
Cyanide discharged!
Despite substantial planning on land-use which allocated areas for industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural mainly, why entrepreneurs seek illegal sites, still? This is believed to be related to the followings;

  1. capital limit in business;
  2. expensive IETS installation and operation;
  3. cost of decent factory premise is too high;
  4. space for many built-up factory buildings is limited;
  5. rental cost for ready factory building is too high;
  6. cheap labor of illegal immigrants is less exposed in hidden sites;
  7. cheaper rental land space by needy land owners are available in remote but accessible areas;
  8. protocol in legal administration of applications;
  9. attitude for short term or temporary occupancy as 'business start-up' commissioning period;
  10. graft or corruption conducive legislative ambience; 
Obviously, factors for their surreptitious existence would remain embedded in
Dark Side of the Force
clandestine 'handshakes' with their respective sources.  Some were apprehended when agencies acted promptly to illustrated complaints which were justified via the mass media. These are cases of higher magnitude such as the published disruption of public water supplies. Others, however, remain unseen for there's a significant dearth of supervision by related agencies. 
This saga of the 'dark side of the force', some of which has led to escalating pollution loads in our river resources, must come to end. Hence, in the context of pollution load in our rivers, unapprehended yet it is. And, my Ikan Laga come back not. Nonetheless, betterment efforts especially in addressing the above shortcomings must continue, relentlessly. Our brainy and high-in-integrity uprising younger officials who are raised through legitimate and sound education program must take over soon. These new generation officials must understand that their paycheques are taxpayer's resources. They must treat their duties as an obligation to taxpayer's trust in them and not as a license to bragg.  Only after being nurtured with such intrinsic requisite should they (including future policy makers) be allowed to occupy those top levels of the executive governance. Further on, their elemental values shall be continually monitored and be liable to taxpayers vis-a-vis the people. They must be replaced, downgraded or expelled for not performing agreed tasks, in this context, sustaining our river water qualities and public water supplies. I'm referring to all governing entities, whether it is the politician, government, government-related-corporates or private firms related to the water issue. It's time to perform with deeds not words! Nonetheless, for those majority of brainy, trustworthy and dedicated officials - keep it up!

... to be continued.

4) The Environmental Quality Act, 1974, pg iv.
8) - W.M. Alley et al., 1999, USGS Circular 1186: Sustainability of Groundwater Resources