What You Can Do
The responsibility of managing river basins to ensure that clean water is available now and in future, does not lie entirely on the government. All of us use water, so everyone must play an active role. As a water user, each of us can play our part by:
- Finding out which river basin our water sources and supply comes from.
- Looking out for activities and development in the river basin that may affect the quality of our drinking water.
- Taking action to protect our river basins. Alerting the authorities such as the Department of Environment and the municipal council, and media about irresponsible polluters and developers. Where possible, provide information such as the date, time, location, and photographs.
- Learning more about laws relating to the protection of highland catchment areas and rivers.
- Not littering, as the rubbish will eventually find its way into our rivers. Recycle! Practice separating our trash and sending it to a recycling centre.
- Protecting our rivers. We all use them so we should learn how to do so.
To protect our highlands and water resources
Highland areas are like natural water towers that provide us with clean, fresh water. They are important water catchment areas, providing water for our domestic, agricultural and industrial needs in the more densely populated lowlands.
Highland forests act as a protective cover for the steep slopes and rugged terrain, therefore helping to control soil erosion and ensuring that the water is clean and free from silt and sediment. Usually, forests at elevations above 1,500m with frequent cloud presence,can also trap moisture from the clouds. Forests in the highlands absorb and accumulate rainwater captured by its vegetation and forest floor, continuously releasing the water into streams and rivers through surface run-off and groundwater.
We can take the following actions to protect our highlands and water resources:
- Increase our consumer awareness about the full economic costs of water and the importance of highland forests and its role in ensuring availability of our water supply.
- Urge for the concept of ‘land use decision is also a water decision’ to be widely understood and integrated into planning. You can do this by reviewing and commenting on local and structure plans (within the purview of the Town & Country Planning Department) and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIAs) reports of proposed projects (within the purview of the Department of Environment (DoE)) during public reviews or consultation periods.
- Call for improved legal protection of highland forests. Write to your State Forestry Department, State Executive Councillors (EXCO) or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and urge them to speed up the process of classifying more highland forest areas as water catchments under the National Forestry Act 1984 or other appropriate laws.
- Insist on the strict enforcement of designations for river buffer and riparian zones as a land use practice to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, filter upstream pollution, and provide shade, recreation and corridors for wildlife.
- People living in the highlands can participate in the management and protection of the highland catchment areas by learning about and applying Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM).
- Ask your local council and assemblymen to work for better understanding and protection of our mountain areas and their natural resources through more research on the hydrology of highland areas, the water capture and supply function of mountain cloud forests, and the highland ecosystems.