Brunei waters facing pollution threat

Brunei waters facing pollution threat
A dated photo showing rubbish floating along Brunei River.

Water pollution is one of the problems faced by Brunei in enhancing the quality of its water resources and ensuring its sustainability for years to come, said an expert during a seminar held at the Ministry of Development Training Institute recently.

Professor Guo Zhenren from Brunei's Institute of Technology (ITB) told The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the seminar that although Brunei's point source pollution is regulated; the country has not yet been able to control its non-point source of pollution which carries around 30 to 40 per cent of total pollutant load.

The professor explained that point source pollution is pollution emitted from wastewater treatment plants, big industries and polluted streams.

Non-point sources, meanwhile, include pollutants that could be found on ground surface - usually areas where human activities are intense.

"In Brunei, there are four major rivers - one in each respective districts. Out of the four, the Brunei River in Brunei-Muara is the most affected while the other three are fine," he said.

"This is because the catchment of Brunei River is urbanised and population is dense. Fortunately we have controlled the domestic wastewater through our water treatment plants," he said.

"When the rain comes down, the pollutants on the grounds are washed off to the receiving water sources. Some chemicals that are used in our daily lives may have polluted our water in the ways of point and non-point sources from urban areas," he said.

The professor also said that another important non-point source could be Brunei's agriculture industry but he said Brunei is fortunate as there are not much agricultural activities carried out.

"For the existing farms, I am not sure if they use a lot of pesticides and fertilisers but if they are, that could also be among the non-point sources of water pollution," he said.

Professor Guo suggested that appropriate engineering measures be employed to address the pollution problems.

These include upgrading Brunei's drainage system to prevent the pollutants from reaching the water resources.

"We can make our drainage system more ecological, that is to incorporate some function of pollutant removal in the drainage system, or put all polluted water in the engineered system for treatment," he said.

"In Brunei we have plenty of natural wetlands and we can make use of them... use engineering technology to enhance the natural function of such to remove pollution from non-pointed sources," he added.

He explained that such drainage systems could serve as a polluted water treatment facility, adding that other countries store initial rainwater in reservoirs underground before treating it.

"This is also a general engineering method for non-point pollution control (and) I do think that by doing such, Brunei will be able to mitigate the impact of floods and adapt to challenges posed by climate change," he said.

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