ALERT - SELANGOR RIVER
KUALA KUBU BHARU, SELANGOR,
Prepared by Mary Maguire - Magick River
- November 30 1998
In 1986 a study entitled "Development
of Sungai Selangor for water supplies to Klang Valley and Southern Kuala
Selangor" was released. The four possible dam locations identified were:
Source: PE Research Sdn
CAPACITY (millions m3)
not feasible due to presence of North-South highway and other developments.
in 1996 and put into service to regulate flows at Batang Berjuntai river
To be developed
subject to engineering review and further feasibility evaluation.
ruled out due to extensive inundation of private land.
The Sg. Selangor dam site is located at 66.5km
of the Kuala Kubu Bharu - Fraser's Hill road. The dam will be used
for water supply and possibly as a mini-hydro for a treatment plant.
The height of the proposed dam will be 115m.
and the catchment area 197km
The dam will inundate about 600ha of mostly
state land. Some private land and two Temuan (Orang Asli) settlements
and ancestral land will be flooded. A 5km stretch of existing Federal
route 55 from KKB to Fraser's Hill will be flooded and will need to be
*TSWA = family concern of Tan Sri Wan Azmi
Wan Hamzah, Chairman of Land & General Berhad, which began as a logging
and sawmilling company and later diversified into furniture and property.
(Interestingly, Land & General Berhad has on its board of directors
Dato' Dr Salleh Mohd Nor, ex-Director of the Forest Research Institute
of Malaysia and current president of the Malaysian Nature Society which
has issued a statement in support of the proposed Selangor Dam.) KDEB =
Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad, an investment arm of the Selangor State government.
Talk about Conflicts of Interest!
In a letter dated 20 September 1998 the Government
granted permission for the Consortium TSWA-Gamuda-KDEB* to carry out the
feasibility study and EIA for the proposed Sg. Selangor dam project.
Syed Mohd. Hui and Binnie (SMHB) have
been appointed by the Consortium to undertake the Environmental Impact
PE Research Sdn. Bhd. have been appointed
to undertake the social impact section of the EIA for the consortium.
PE Research Sdn Bhd expect resistance to the
dam from the local Orang Asli community as well as members of the public
who regularly enjoy the picnic spots along the river.
PE Research state that the Sg. Selangor dam
is "preferred over the alternative Rening dam at this stage due to its
much smaller reservoir area which is largely state land." If chosen the
alternative dam on Sg.Rening would inundate 1200ha of mainly oil palm and
rubber plantations owned by Nam Bee estate and FELDA Ulu Rening settlers.
A substantial area of secondary jungle or idle land and part of Kg. Ulu
Rening would also be affected.
It would appear that Puncak Niaga may
also be bidding for the Sg. Selangor dam contract. Two specialists from
UKM recently visited the area claiming they were conducting a social impact
study for the EPU on behalf of Puncak Niaga. As of this writing it
isn't clear if this is a competitive bid or a separate study for the feasibility
of building a mini-hydro to service their water treatment plant.
Since the study was completed
in 1986 the profile of the Sg, Selangor has changed considerably. Logging
of the catchment area has increased the amount of silt and mud present
in the river. After only moderate rainfall the river turns into a brown
Chan Yuen Li and Lina Tan from Nomad Adventures
say the river began to become heavily silted two years ago. This was the
same time the slopes of Sg. Luit were being logged. The Sg. Luit is one
of the main tributaries of the Sg. Selangor and joins the main river at
Kg. Orang Asli Pertak.
This will present a challenge to the dam builders
and may render the dam uneconomical as it can be expected that siltation
will be a major problem. Siltation will be further exacerbated by
logging of the area to be inundated.
Past logging has also led to landslides,
gully formation and general instability of the hill slopes in the whole
area designated for the dam's development.
Two Orang Asli settlements (Temuan) will be
flooded forcing about 600 people to move from their ancestral land. This
is State land which has been identified as an Orang Asli area but has still
not been gazetted as such. This will obviously have a major bearing
on issues of compensation and relocation.
The Temuan subsist almost totally off their
land. Flooding it will destroy their durian and other fruit trees, petai
trees, bamboo, rotan and all the other jungle produce they economically
Many of their ancestral graves will be submerged
- something they just cannot accept.
A Government Youth Training Centre at Pertak,
privately owned fish farms, small rubber plantations, fruit orchards and
private houses will also be affected.
The effect on eco/adventure-tourism in the area
will be severe. This stretch of the Sg. Selangor is a very popular weekend
picnic location and there are 6 existing picnic sites serving this area
which will be inundated. We estimate this stretch of the river attracts
an average of 250 visitors each weekend day. This often rises to 500+ on
public holidays. Since the picnic areas were built we have noticed
a steady increase in visitors to the river.
Changes in the water level of
the river caused by the dam can be expected to affect the profile of the
river downstream specifically in terms of increased salinity. It may well
affect the ecology of the MNS reserve in Kuala Selangor as well as the
habitat of the fireflies at Kg. Kuantan (about 4 kms upstream from Kuala
Selangor). These are both well established eco-tourism sites.
Three whitewater rafting companies will be inundated.
They are TRACKS, NOMAD ADVENTURE, and KHERSONESE EXPEDITIONS. These
companies set up their businesses along the Sg. Selangor in line with the
Selangor State Government's plan to develop eco-tourism in the state. In
fact there are plans to make the Sg. Selangor the national whitewater rafting
venue. Earlier this year the Sg. Selangor was the venue for an international
whitewater rafting event.
Many of the townspeople from Kuala Kubu Bharu,
about 4kms downstream of the dam, are very concerned about their safety
if the dam project goes ahead. Their concern is not unfounded. In 1883
a dam on the Sg. Selangor burst and totally destroyed the original Kuala
Kubu town which was situated further downstream and closer to the Sg. Selangor
than it is today. A new settlement, Ampang Pecah (Broken
Dam), has since grown up around the original dam site.
In 1996 residents of Ampang Pecah had to
leave their homes in the middle of the night after the Sg. Selangor and
its tributaries burst their banks and waist-deep muddy water inundated
their homes. A huge section of the road between Ampang Pecah and Rasa was
also swept away during these floods.
Both Kuala Kubu Bharu and Ampang Pecah are still
very vulnerable to flooding. Human activities like mining and logging of
the Sg. Selangor catchment area give rise to heavy runoff and soil erosion
which raises the height of the river to dangerous levels. The worst floods
were recorded in the 1920s when the whole town was flooded.
As of March 11, 1999, an ACTION COMMITTEE
AGAINST SELANGOR DAM has been formed by concerned citizens, nature-lovers,
and residents of Kuala Kubu Bharu to voice public outrage on the dam project:
Here are some relevant facts
and figures that you may find useful:
1. The Sg. Selangor
is the only river left in the state that hasn't been fully "exploited"
and therefore there would appear to be little or no choice but to develop
a catchment dam on that river.
2. According to the
Jabatan Bekalan Air (JBA), the Sg. Selangor dam will be the biggest storage
dam in the country.
3. All of the JBA loji air (water
filtration) plants except Sg. Selangor are at full capacity. Therefore
the Sg. Selangor system is seen as being the major supplier of water to
KL and the Klang valley.
4. Syed Danial from Puncak Niaga said the
Sg. Selangor was the 2nd most polluted river in the state. It has a high
content of suspended solids (sand, mud and silt). Any water infrastructure
along this river will therefore be more costly as they will have to install
additional silt traps and siltation tanks.
5. Even with the Sg. Selangor dam onstream
there still won't be enough water to
meet projected demand and Selangor will still need to pipe water from Pahang
6. The four JBA water plants in Selangor
are distributing 2,500 million litres per day which is only just keeping
pace with demand. Demand is expected to grow by 6% per annum. They have
1.3 million consumers in Selangor and
the federal Territory.
7. One of the reasons that existing dams
have less water is due to heat rising
from Kuala Lumpur which affects local weather and rainfall patterns. Rather
than falling in the catchment areas, a lot of rain is now falling on the
8. At least 40% of water needed for
domestic use can come from an untreated source.
9. We get about 990 billion cubic
metres of rainfall per year. 360 billion
m3 goes in evapotranspiration and 566 billion m3
in run off.
10. The Drainage and Irrigation Dept (DID)
say we have groundwater recharge of 646
billion m3. They claim that tapping groundwater is a good way
to deal with water shortage. In Terengganu they have a 4 million
gallon per day well that serves 100,000 people and have just developed
another one in Selangor that will produce 3.5 million gallons per day.
11. 97% of the water we use comes from rivers
and only 3% from groundwater. In Denmark
they get 99% of their water from groundwater sources.
staggering 996 million litres per day or 37% of treated water is lost,
what they call "non revenue water." 16% of this is lost through leakages
(not consumed), 14% from water theft (consumed but not paid for), 5% non
revenue from faulty water metres (consumed and not paid for) and 2% for
13. Urban areas are predominantly impervious
areas due to the high level of development. Housing developers only
have to comply with 10% open space in their designs. Therefore a lot of
rainwater falling over urban areas is lost as run off. This means none
of it replenishes the groundwater supply - instead it contributes to flash
14. Puncak Niaga claim it will cost RM1.65
billion to repair and replace old leaking water pipes and water mains and
that it would take 10 years to complete.
Some alternatives to storage dams were suggested
during the seminar as follows:
Development of small ponds to serve local communities
rather than having to centrally collect
and store water and pipe it around the state.
Utilise the retention capacity of existing wetlands
and natural underground aquifers.
Embark on a conservation campaign. Don't
clean teeth, shave or wash dishes with the tap running. Use buckets
to clean cars and water gardens rather than hose pipes. Reduce pollution
going into rivers which means water treatment plants are not forced to
Reduce the run off areas in urban areas by laying
tiles rather than flat cement.
Charge more for water so that people become
more aware of how much they are wasting.
Collect rainwater to supplement your supply
(can be used to flush the toilet, clean the house,
water the garden etc).
Repair and replace all leaking water pipes and
There are alternatives to building yet another
dam that might only be functional for a few years. Building the Sg, Selangor
dam, and the road realignment that will be needed, is going to cost billions
of ringgit, disrupt the lives of hundreds (and possibly thousands) of people,
destroy one of the last areas of natural beauty in Selangor, destroy the
thriving eco-tourism already operating in the area and put the town of
KKB and Ampang Pecah at risk from dam breaches.
In short, the proposed Sg. Selangor Dam sounds
like yet another titanic social, environmental, and financial DISASTER
in the making. Lets stop it before it even gets started.
If you want to help in any way to prevent
this dam from being developed we'd love to hear from you. Likewise
if you have any positive alternative suggestions. Please network
this information to as many people as possible.
Thanks for your support and interest.
the International Movement Against Large Dams!
[Photo: World Bank]
|A LARGE DAM IS DEFINED AS ANYTHING OVER 15
METRES. THE PROPOSED SELANGOR DAM WOULD BE A MAJOR DAM AT 115
Ghana's Akosombo Dam was described in a
recent World Bank review of its dams as
having only "possible negative environmental
impacts," although it inundated 4% of Ghana's
landmass. The report's inadequacies led to an
agreement to form an international independent
review of the world's dams.
MEET THE TEMUAN