Best of our wild blogs: 25 Oct 16

October happenings at the Sisters Islands Marine Park
Sisters' Island Marine Park

Company poised to destroy critical orangutan habitat in breach of Indonesia’s moratorium

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Concentration of CO2 in atmosphere hits new high: UN

AFP Yahoo News 24 Oct 16;

Geneva (AFP) - The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has passed an ominous milestone, ushering the planet into "a new era" of climate change, the UN said Monday.

For the first time on record, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere averaged 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

CO2, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, has previously passed the 400 ppm threshold on certain months in specific locations but never on a globally averaged basis, WMO said.

The UN agency also reported that CO2 concentration rates had "surged again to new records in 2016" and predicted the annual average would "not dip below (400 ppm) for many generations."

WMO chief Petteri Taalas said "the year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement.

"But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations," he added in a statement.

The CO2 concentration rate for 2014 was 397.2 ppm, just short of the 400 ppm mark that some climate activists once deemed unthinkable.

- El Nino factor -

CO2 concentration rates have spiked in part because of a strong El Nino, the weather phenomenon that occurs every four to five years with a broadly warming effect.

El Nino "triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of 'sinks' like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2," WMO said.

But Taalas, warned against complacency just because El Nino has subsided for now.

"The El Nino event has disappeared. Climate change has not," added the Finnish national, who was named WHO chief earlier this year.

Taalas applauded the landmark deal reached in Rwanda's capital Kigali earlier this month to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a category of dangerous greenhouse gases widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The Kigali pact has been heralded as a major step towards curbing global warming, but Taalas cautioned that in working to cap HFC emissions the world could not afford to take its focus off CO2.

"The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans even longer," he said.

The WMO's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin tracks concentrations of gasses in the atmosphere, rather than emissions with data compiled from a monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

Aside from CO2, the report monitors concentration rates of other major greenhouse gasses like methane, which in 2015 hit 1845 parts per billion, or more than 256 percent above pre-industrial levels.

Globally averaged concentrations of nitrous oxide, another climate change actor, were 121 percent above pre-industrial levels, according to WMO's 2015 data.

The agency estimates that roughly half of greenhouse gas emissions end up in the atmosphere, as about a quarter is taken up by the ocean and another quarter taken up by the biosphere.

CO2 levels mark 'new era' in the world's changing climate
Matt McGrath BBC 24 Oct 16;

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have surged past an important threshold and may not dip below it for "many generations".

The 400 parts per million benchmark was broken globally for the first time in recorded history in 2015.

But according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2016 will likely be the first full year to exceed the mark.

The high levels can be partly attributed to a strong El Niño event.

Gas spike

While human emissions of CO2 remained fairly static between 2014 and 2015, the onset of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon caused a spike in levels of the gas in the atmosphere.

That's because the drought conditions in tropical regions produced by El Niño meant that vegetation was less able to absorb CO2. There were also extra emissions from fires, sparked by the drier conditions.

In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the World Meteorological Organisation says the conditions helped push the growth in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere above the average for the last ten years.

At the atmospheric monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, levels of CO2 broke through 400 parts per million (ppm), meaning 400 molecules of CO2 for every one million molecules in the atmosphere.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago, say experts.

Prior to 1800 atmospheric levels were around 280ppm, according to the US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

The WMO says that the rise through the 400ppm barrier has persisted and it's likely that 2016 will be the first full year when the measurements show CO2 above that benchmark, and "hence for many generations".

While the El Niño factor has now disappeared, the human impact on climate change has not, the WMO argues.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations."

The report also details the growth in other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide.

In 2015, levels of methane were 2.5 times greater than in the pre-industrial era, while nitrous oxide was 1.2 times above the historic measure.

The study also points to the impact of these increased concentrations of warming gases on the world's climate.

Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing or warming effect, caused by a build up of these substances, from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

While welcoming new initiatives like the global agreement to phase out HFC gases agreed recently in Rwanda, the WMO argues that nations must retain their focus on cutting CO2.

"Without tackling CO2 emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial era," said Petteri Taalas.

"It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris Agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on 4 November and that we fast-track its implementation."

Around 200 nations who signed the Paris climate agreement will meet in Morocco in November to decide on the next steps forward.

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14 hotels recognised for implementing waste reduction measures

Angela Lim Channel NewsAsia 24 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: Fourteen hotels were on Monday (Oct 24) recognised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) for going the extra mile to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Three hotels - the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, the Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Marina Bay Sands - emerged tops in the biennial 3R Awards for Hotels, bagging the Distinction Award for their innovative approaches to minimise waste.

First-time recipient MBS, for example, installed five digesters on-site to treat food waste on its premises. MBS also donates excess dry food to a food redistribution organisation daily, and runs a campaign where S$1 is donated to charity for every clean plate returned at the staff cafeteria.

Mandarin Oriental received the Distinction Award for the second time. Among its green practices are using e-signatures for the approval of internal documents, and selling a swimwear range made with recycled plastics.

Eleven hotels received the Merit Award this year, including Concorde Hotel Singapore and Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.


To reduce food waste in the hotel industry, NEA and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) also launched a new guidebook on Monday.

It offers a step-by-step guide on how retail food establishments can develop a food waste reduction plan tailored to their needs. Tips on how to do so through effective inventory management, good storage habits and recycling options are also provided.

The guidebook was launched by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Amy Khor, who was at the awards ceremony held at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore.

"Besides contributing to environmental sustainability and building a positive brand image as a responsible business operator, undertaking 3R measures can also reduce operating costs for hotels and appeal to the environmentally-conscious traveller," said Dr Khor.

- CNA/gs

Guidebook on food waste reduction launched by NEA and AVA
Yahoo News 24 Oct 16;

A new guidebook on food waste reduction was launched on Monday (24 October) amid concerns that Singapore is running out of landfill space.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) jointly launched the guidebook, which is targeted at retail food establishments.

Through the guidebook, users can learn about how they can reduce food waste through means such as inventory management, waste treatment and recycling options.

Over the past 10 years, the amount of food waste in Singapore has jumped by about 45 per cent, and is expected to rise further with growing population and economic activity, according to a media statement issued jointly by NEA and the Singapore Hotel Association.

When food is wasted, resources used to produce and transport it are also expended. “The growing amount of waste is also not sustainable for land-scarce Singapore. If waste continues to increase at the current rate, our only landfill, Semakau Landfill, will run out of space by 2035,” the statement said.

Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, launched the guidebook at an award ceremony to recognise the efforts of 14 hotels in minimising food waste.

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Singapore joins international energy group, underlining global status in sector

LEE YEN NEE Today Online 24 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — The Republic has joined the International Energy Agency (IEA) as an association country, following in the footsteps of China, Thailand and Indonesia, in a move that will help keep Singapore at the forefront of energy sector developments.

“As we continue to develop initiatives and policies that enhance Singapore’s domestic energy market, international energy cooperation is critical in our efforts to learn from best practices and to ensure energy security and sustainability. International energy organisations such as the IEA play a central role in facilitating such cooperation,” Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran said on Monday (Oct 24) at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week.

“Becoming an association country is a natural extension of Singapore’s already close collaboration with the IEA. It will allow us to further participate in the global energy dialogue, and keep abreast of new technical developments in the energy sector,” he added.

Singapore can also partner the IEA to build capabilities in the region, starting with two new initiatives: The Singapore-IEA regional training hub and an annual Singapore-IEA Forum to drive discussion on new technologies and innovation.

The training hub will allow the IEA to use Singapore as a base to boost the region’s energy-related capabilities, according to Mr Iswaran, who added that a regional version of the IEA’s Energy Efficiency Training Week for policymakers and officials will be held here next year. The Paris-based IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation set up in 1974 to help member countries coordinate responses to major oil supply disruptions.

IEA members have to be a country under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and meet criteria such as being a net oil importer and have reserves of crude oil or product equivalent to around 90 days of the previous years’ average net oil imports.

The IEA Association programme provides a platform for the agency to engage non-member countries to work together on issues including energy security, energy data and statistics, and energy policy analysis. It enables non-member countries to participate in a variety of activities, including IEA standing groups, committees, and ministerial meetings.

Mr Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, said that being an IEA association country is part of Singapore’s strategy in staying relevant as it is imperative the country finds its way to the frontline of global happenings.

“Platforms such as IEA can facilitate conversations where Singapore could gain insights on developments well ahead of time. This is an advantage that is good to have, not despite being small, but because we are small,” he said.

Mr Song Seng Wun, CIMB Private Banking economist, said: “We are always asking whether Singapore can stay relevant given that it’s never going to be the cheapest place or sexiest place. I think the fact that there is such an interest in Singapore (to be part of IEA) shows that it is still relevant as a neutral ground that organisations such as IEA, Interpol can tap on.”

On Singapore becoming the newest association country of IEA, Dr Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, said: “I am particularly happy to welcome Singapore into the IEA family. It is an important player both regionally and globally and has put in place strong policies to ensure secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply.”

“We look forward to building even stronger ties between the IEA and Singapore, especially because it is in a strategic position to support the energy transition in South-east Asia,” he added.

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Singapore tests alternative energy investments costing over S$30m

WONG PEI TING Today Online 25 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — Frequent users of the Tuas Checkpoint may have noticed something unusual going on at Tengeh Reservoir recently – rows and rows of floating solar panels. Singapore now hosts the world’s largest floating solar test-bed atop a hectare of waters at Tengeh Reservoir, and it will be feeding energy from the sun to the national power grid from as soon as December.

Over at Semakau Island, an area the size of eight soccer fields had been cleared to make way for a microgrid system that can consolidate power generated from multiple renewable energy sources – solar, wind, tidal, diesel, and power-to-gas technologies – to power the island’s operations.

When the S$11-million floating solar photovoltaic testbed and S$20-million microgrid system projects ripen by next year, they will collectively produce four megawatts of electricity – enough to power up to 1,000 four-room flats at any one time.

These two multi-million projects were announced by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli at the opening of the Asia Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday (Oct 25), as he outlines Singapore’s ambition to play its part in addressing climate change and to contribute to the Association of South-east Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) renewable energy goals.

With the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set to come into force on Nov 4, he said: “Clean energy solutions will play a crucial role as countries work towards a carbon-constrained future. There is vast potential for growth and innovation in this space, and countries and cities must ready themselves to ride this wave of opportunity.”

He added that such clean energy test-beds “allow Singapore to develop a leadership role in renewable energy development in the region”.


In the region, with 20 per cent of South-east Asia’s population lacking access to electricity, microgrids is looked upon as a viable alternative power infrastructure, and Singapore aspires to achieve regional leadership in this area – hence the deployment of a microgrid test-bed at Semakau Island to develop and demonstrate microgrid technologies.

The initiative by the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator-Singapore is testing how well different energy sources can operate well together. The first of four microgrid facilities have just been deployed at Semakau Landfill, which will power the National Environment Agency’s infrastructure on the island as well as fish hatcheries and nurseries there.

This involves the installation of over 3,000sqm of photovoltaic panels – to generate 400kW peak of power – as well as a large-scale energy storage system. “A large challenge will be how (we can) accommodate more intermittent sources like wind and solar energy in energy storage, as we want to consume the energy as it suits us,” said Prof Hans Bjorn Puttgen, senior director of the NTU’s Energy Research Institute.

Work to build the other three microgrids will start at the end of this year, and they are projected to be operational by the third quarter of next year. The wind turbines and tidal machines to harness the energy from the waves will be introduced later in 2018.

Being only a one-megawatt system, Prof Puttgen emphasised that the “key application” for the microgrid system is not in local use, but that the hybrid microgrid can possibly become a model for “isolated villages and islands” and “remote areas that are not connected to a regular major power station” in neighbouring countries.

For example, REIDS is looking into developing its offshore microgrid projects at two islands in the Philippines that only gets eight to 10 hours of electricity a day, so that it can extend the hours of available electricity to 16 hours a day and more, Prof Puttgen said. “A good range of power is 500kW to a megawatt (to make that happen).”


The floating solar system at Tengeh Reservoir, although three years late in becoming operational, is part of Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 to plan for the Republic’s next phase of sustainable development until 2030.

Over the past five months, nine different systems from seven companies – including three local start-ups: Sunseap, SolarGy, and BBR Greentech – were installed at Tengeh Reservoir. The last one by Italy’s Enel Green Power is projected to be installed by December.

Once the 10 systems are hooked up to the national grid, they will be pitted against one other to see which system would be most economically viable under the same amount of sunlight. Besides energy yield and cost, they will also be judged by their temperature (cooler solar panels are more energy efficient), movements on water (to see if they are drifting too far or sinking), and environmental impact (evaporation rate, water quality and interference with wildlife).

The Solar Energy Institute of Singapore (SERIS) at National University of Singapore is managing the scientific evaluation of the test-bed led by the EDB and the PUB.

After about six months, two most efficient systems will be selected for deployment 10 times their current size at one-megawatts each for further tests.

Floating panels have been identified by EDB as a major area of focus in Singapore’s “urban solar” approach to complement the SolarNova efforts to deploy solar systems on rooftops and help address the lack of space for solar deployment. Furthermore, a test in Malaysia have found that the cooling effect of water can improve energy generation by 20 per cent. To prove this further, SERIS had installed conventional rooftop solar panels on the testbed’s substations for reference.

SERIS is also testing how the system might degrade over time, so the test could last as long as three to six years.

When asked about the three-year delay in getting the test-bed up and running, the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) executive director of Greentech Goh Chee Kiong cited the logistical and technical complexities involved, including the difficulty in securing the “sensitive location” and the need to ensure that there are substations big enough to accept huge electrical loads.

Public Utilities Board’s (PUB) Chief Sustainability Officer Tan Nguan Sen said there were “hiccups” in connecting the generated solar power to the national grid. “This is something new that is done for the first time in Singapore,” he said. “It was a learning process we had to go through unfortunately.”

“Floating (photovoltaic panels) have caught on in the past one to two years, we have seen developments in Japan, China, Europe, America, Australia and even India. So what this means is that it is a highly exportable knowhow, highly exportable sector that we want to groom, and we are seeing that by the strong interest by the various companies wanting to participate in the testbed in Singapore… (even) energy giants,” said Mr Goh.

“The selling point is that we want them to establish their business hub in Singapore. After which then they will export the knowhow from Singapore.”

Tengeh Reservoir to host world's largest solar panel testbed
Chan Luo Er, Channel NewsAsia and Liyana Othman 25 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The world's largest floating solar panel testbed will be operational in Singapore by the end of the year, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Tuesday (Oct 25).

Mr Masagos said the pilot test of 10 solar energy - or photovoltaic - systems at Tengeh Reservoir is the largest globally in terms of how much power it can produce and the number of systems being tested. He was speaking at the Joint Opening Ceremony of the 3rd Asia Clean Energy Summit and the 26th Photovoltaic Science and Engineering Conference.

The testbed can produce a maximum one-megawatt of energy, enough to power 250 four-room HDB flats for a year.

The pilot aims to determine what works best for Singapore, and to study the environmental impacts of such technologies on water infrastructure, Mr Masagos explained. "Given our geography, solar photovoltaic systems are a key technology is Singapore's efforts to harness renewable energy.

"Floating photovoltaic systems, those installed over our water bodies, not only help to overcome land constraints, but also have the potential to reduce evaporative losses from our reservoirs," he added.

The efficiency of solar panels can also be improved if they are installed over water as the cooling effect will allow them to yield more energy compared to solar panels that are too hot, the Minister said, adding that authorities will explore a wider deployment of such systems, should this pilot prove to be economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

A control solar panel installation on land is also set up on a nearby roof.

Economic Development Board Executive Director for Cleantech Goh Chee Kiong said that Singapore has been observing the various developments around the world and floating photovoltaics has caught on globally in the last one to two years.

"We are seeing developments in Japan, China, Europe, the Americas as well, Australia and even India. What this means is that it is highly exportable know-how, highly exportable sector that we want to grow and we are seeing that though the strong interest by various companies wanting to participate in the floating photovoltaics testbed in Singapore."

Eight companies are involved in the testbed, including large corporations from countries such as Japan and Italy and local small- and medium-sized enterprises.

"The starting point is that we want them to establish their business hubs in Singapore after which then they will export the know-how from Singapore, from doing the innovation right in Singapore," Mr Goh said.

- CNA/mz

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Malaysians losing their taste for shark fin soup, says WWF

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 24 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Though Malaysia is one of the world’s top consumers of shark fin soup, the popularity of the dish fell by almost fifty per cent over the last six months, and the downward trend is expected to continue in the coming year, said World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF) marine head Dr Robecca Jumin.

"In the past six months, there was a 44 per cent decline in consumption of shark fin soup, which might be driven by (a number of factors, including) more effective shark protection, greater awareness among the public, environmental concerns, and a change in dining culture.

"According to WWF’s 2015 survey (of average consumers), respondents said (their change in attitude towards shark consumption was self-driven), but social media and environmental non-governmental organisations (played a role), " Robecca said during a My Fin My Life dialogue session with business operators here this morning.

She added that most shark fin soup dishes were served in restaurants during family gatherings or special occasions such as wedding receptions, especially among the Chinese.

Worldwide, about 100,000 sharks are killed each and every year for their fins, as well as liver oil and cartilage.

From 2000 to 2010, Malaysia ranked 9th among the world’s top 20 shark catchers, and 3rd as importer of fins. On average, 84 per cent of imported shark fins are consumed domestically.

According to Robecca, this year’s My Fin My Life campaign aims to reverse the still-high shark fin soup consumption in Malaysia by engaging the public and businesses to unanimously pledge not to consume shark fin soup and related products.

"Among the targets (are to encourage) 20,000 restaurants and 500 businesses in the country to phase-out shark fin soup from their menus, and to recruit one million Malaysians to support the call for (an end to shark fin soup consumption). "We are targeting Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu to achieve it," she added.

Sabah to lose tourism dollars if it allows shark population to decline
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 24 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will lose out to neighbouring countries in generating income in the tourism industry if it fails to conserve its shark population.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the southern Philippines' waters, which are rich in biodiversity, pose a competition to Sabah's diving activities.

"Philippine President (Rodrigo) Duterte is going all out to sort out the security issue in the country. "Our reluctance to get shark species protected, will give opportunities for other countries to take advantage of the diving industry," he said in his closing speech during the 'My Fin My Life' campaign at the Kota Kinabalu Business dialogue here.

Last year, about 55,000 divers came to Sabah and 80 per cent of them wanted to see live sharks in the sea. The year-long activity alone contributed more than RM300 million in tourism receipts.

Masidi added that besides restaurants, local employment in tourism services would be greatly affected when the population of the marine ecosystem's apex predator diminishes.

He also said Natural Resources and Environment minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had agreed to find ways for the state to better protect the species through laws.

Meanwhile, the state ministry had earlier annouced that shark sanctuaries would be set up at more than two million hectares of marine parks including the newly-gazetted Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat, Tunku Abdul Rahman park in Kota Kinabalu, and the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna.

Present were city mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, WWF Malaysia marine head Dr Robecca Jumin and Sabah conservation head Dr John Tay as well as Sabah Shark Protection president Aderick Chong.

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Malaysia, Selangor: River water bad, dam water dropping

The Star 25 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: While the authorities are grappling to contain the contamination that has shut down water treatment plants three times this month, they also have another problem on their hands.

The water level at the Sungai Selangor dam that supplies 60% of Selangor and Putrajaya’s treated water is dropping fast and is now close to the 40% level which triggered water rationing two years ago.

The dam is now at 43.29%, dropping more than 6% in the past 15 days alone, according to data from the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas).

On March 2, 2014, water rationing was imposed in the Klang Valley and Selangor on March 2 to May 1 after the water level dipped below 40%.

The critical level for the dam is 30%, and the current reading is far below the 82.58% recorded exactly a year ago.

“There’s a risk of rationing if the level continues to drop,” said Asso­ciation of Water and Energy Research Malaysia president S. Piarapakaran.

He cited two possible reasons for the rapid drop.

The first is the lower than average rainfall over the Sungai Selangor dam’s catchment area.

The second is that a higher than normal rate of water is being released from the dam, to meet demand by treatment plants after the river contamination elsewhere.

Piarapakaran said the Sungai Selangor Phase 1 treatment plant was producing 10% more treated water than usual, while the Sungai Selangor Phase 3 plant was producing 30% more.

“If we don’t get lots of rain soon, the Klang Valley could end up with a situation similar to Mersing,” he added, referring to the Johor town which was hit by a six-month long scheduled water supply exercise which only ended yesterday.

MetMalaysia brought no immediate cheer.

A spokesman said the inter monsoon period this month would see less rainfall.

In October last year, there was 100mm to 250mm below average rainfall, according to the department’s website.

“However, the situation is expected to improve with more rains from early next month due to the arrival of the north-east monsoon,” said the spokesman.

The north-east monsoon brings heavy rain not just to the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

West coast states, including Selangor, can also get as much as 20% to 60% above average rainfall.

This stinks to high heaven!
Foul-smelling, toxic solvent dumped at riverside
The Star 25 Oct 16;

SEPANG: Someone has been dumping toxic solvent by the banks of Sg Buah, off the Elite Highway here, causing the water that flows into Sg Semenyih to become dangerous.

Authorities are now racing to clean up the mess by building a bund across the river to stop the water from flowing into Sg Semen­yih and drawing out the contaminated water to be dumped elsewhere.

The 20m bund has been built across Sg Buah as authorities work to restore treated water supply to hundreds of thousands of consumers in four districts in Selangor.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali said that although the authorities had yet to establish the culprit behind the mess, Selangor Water Management Board Authority (Luas) had found traces of a solvent at three spots in the river, across the border to Negri Sembilan.

The solvent is so toxic that swathes of green grass by the banks were charred.

“We had no choice but to prevent Sg Buah from flowing into Sg Semenyih to restart our water treatment. Our priority now is to ensure the 320,000 account holders get their supply as soon as possible,” he said after checking on the clean-up operations.

The affected consumers are from the Sepang, Kuala Langat, Hulu Langat and Petaling districts.

Apart from the water board, several other agencies, including the Sepang and Kajang municipalities, the Drainage and Irrigation Department and Indah Water Konsortium are involved in the clean-up exercise.

After the bund was in place, pumps were brought in to extract the foul-smelling water from Sg Buah into tankers. The water was transported out in lorries and deposited in a nearby pond.

Azmin said the Luas employees went to the scene after getting reports of the foul smell at about 7.30am on Sunday.

“While conducting checks, they found the smell at its worst near a section of the river at the north-bound Nilai R&R, along the North-South Expressway,” he said.

At about 6.10pm, they found large traces of solvent along the 45.9km mark of the Elite Highway, which links the New Klang Valley Express­way and the southbound stretch of the North-South Expressway.

“It looks as if the solvent had been dumped along a slope causing it to flow into Sg Buah,” Azmin said.

Klang Valley folk see red over supply disruption
The Star 25 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: Residents all over Klang Valley are furious over having to face water supply disruption after the Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant has to be shut down again following the latest incident of river contamination.

This is the fourth disruption in two months.

Not only do the residents have to put up with the inconvenience, businesses, particularly those that consume large amounts of water such as eateries, hair salons and laundromats, are bearing losses. Even hospitals are not spared.

KPMC Puchong Specialist Centre general manager Paramjeet Singh said with more than 70% occupancy, the hospital needed water and the hospital’s tanks could only last for a few days.

Bandar Puteri Residents’ Asso­ciation and Rukun Tetangga chairman Datuk Samson Maman said Ban­­dar Puteri Puchong was a food heaven with more than 100 restaurants.

“A water supply disruption could cause another round of health issues,” he said.

USJ 11/3M Residents Association vice-chairman M. Singam said his family might have to cancel Deepavali celebrations in view of the water supply problem.

Puven Nathan, 33, from USJ 14 in Subang Jaya, said his family only realised the water supply had been cut yesterday morning when they were getting ready for work.

Environment Dept monitoring pollution sources behind Selangor water disruption
New Straits Times 25 Oct 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The pollution that led to the water disruption in Selangor is being monitored closely by the Department of Environment.

Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, in a statement last night, said this was of serious concern as the disruptions in four districts affected 1.6 million people.

"The department has begun investigations to find the source of the pollution that led to the closure of the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant," he said of the closure on Sunday, the third since Sept 27.

"A team was mobilised on the same day, focusing their probe in the Nilai industrial and light industrial areas as well as another industrial area in the vicinity," he said of the locations in Negeri Sembilan.

The team is looking into the possibility of effluents flowing into the river via Sungai Buah, he said, adding the distance between the industrial areas to the intake point for the treatment plant was about 8.5km.

Following the first disruption last month, Wan Junaidi said a team dispatched to Nilai found the release of effluents by a premise operating in the Nilai industrial area adhered to requirements in accordance with the Environment Quality Act 1974.

To ensure results of the water quality were were acquired on other parmeters, samples were also sent to the Chemistry Department to be compared with the Malaysia Water Quality Standard.

Wan Junaidi said integrated monitoring among various state agencies in Negeri Sembilan have also been arranged. It involves the Environment Department, state Forestry department, Nilai Municipal Council and Negri Sembilan Water Regulatory Body.

"So far we have yet to find proof that point to possible sabotage. I suggest that if the Selangor Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Azmin Ali) does have evidence related to the incident, he should lodge a police report about it," he added.

Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant resumes operations
The Star 24 Oct 16;

SHAH ALAM: The Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant (WTP), which was closed Sunday due to odour pollution of the water, resumed operations Monday afternoon.

State Exco for Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs, Elizabeth Wong said the WTP had sent water to the reservoir since 1.30pm.

“Water supply will be restored gradually. Tankers will provide water to critical premises such as hospitals and dialysis centres,” she said in a statement Monday.

The affected areas were Bangi, Bandar Bukit Mahkota (Kajang), Semenyih and Rinching (Hulu Langat), Morib (Banting), Bandar Saujana Putra, Bandar Rimbayu and Telok Panglima (Kuala Langat), USJ 1 to 27, Puchong, Seri Kembangan and Serdang (Petaling), Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Bandar Nusa Putra, Putra Heights, Pulau Meranti, Kota Warisan, Bandar Bukit Puchong and Sungai Merab (Sepang).

Wong said users can get the latest status and details of the affected areas and the water supply restoration schedule via the smartphone application mySYABAS and

Selangor Water Management Board (Luas), Indah Water Konsortium (IWK), Sepang Municipal Council and Kajang Municipal Council had built bunds in Sungai Buah to divert the contaminated water.

Luas also made a police report and informed the Negri Sembilan Department of Environment (DOE) and samples were taken sent for laboratory tests.

“We believe that pollutants were disposed in Negri Sembilan knowing that they will reach Sungai Semenyih in Selangor,” she said.

Sungai Semenyih WTP was closed at 7.30am yesterday due to odour pollution of river water, suspected to originate from Nilai industrial area, Negri Sembilan.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali claimed that Sungai Semenyih WTP had been sabotaged, forcing it to be closed for the third time in a month and the fifth time this year. - Bernama

Water supply to Hulu Langat, Petaling, Sepang and Kuala Langat to return in stages
The Star 24 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: The Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant has resumed operations at 7pm Monday, following a brief shutdown because of odour pollution.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) said water supply to areas in Hulu Langat, Petaling, Sepang and Kuala Langat would be distributed in stages based on a schedule beginning Tuesday.

This is to allow a more efficient distribution of water supply during the restoration period, and to minimise the duration of water disruptions in the affected areas.

The schedule is divided into two zones. Zone 1 is expected to receive water at 4pm on Tuesday, and will be disconnected at 9am Wednesday.

Meanwhile Zone 2 will receive water at 4pm Wednesday until 9am Friday, followed by two-day supplies for each zone until Nov 2.

“The scheduled recovery process is only a temporary measure to help speed up the recovery process and the distribution of supplies to all the affected areas and prevent consumers from experiencing water supply disruption for long periods of time,” Syabas said in a statement.

It said that lorries carrying water would be mobilised in the meantime to affected areas, especially at critical premises and hospitals.

“We will closely monitor the recovery process and the scheduling will be reviewed from time to time,” it added.

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Malaysia, Malacca: Water woes loom in Malacca with three dams critical

The Star 25 Oct 16;

MALACCA: The problem is not just in Selangor. A water crisis is looming in Malacca, too, with three dams nearing critical levels.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said Durian Tunggal Dam was at 37m, just 2m from the danger level while the other two dams were also reaching critical stages.

“We have no choice but to activate water rationing if this situation continues.

“Any rationing exercise will be done with careful consideration and on a 12-hour rotation basis to allow households to store water,” he said after the tabling of the state budget yesterday.

Idris acknowledged that the state was experiencing heavy downpours but there was no rain over the three dams.

He said that the state govern­­­ment con­­ducted cloud seeding yesterday.

Idris said alternative measures had to be considered as the levels at other major dams – Jus and Asahan Dams in Jasin – were also at dissatisfactory levels.

“I was informed that it rained in several parts of the state but not over the catchment areas,” he said.

Ayer Keroh assemblyman Khoo Poay Tiong asked the state government to immediately look into the water shortage in the state.

“The dams are drying up fast. It’s just a matter of time before we have a crisis like in 1991,” he said.

A drought in late 1991 and a mistake in monitoring the Durian Tunggal Dam level has been blamed for the worst water crisis to have hit Malacca.

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Malaysia: Kelantan folk cry foul over dirty water

The Star 25 Oct 16;

KOTA BARU: Fed up over what they claim has been 10 years of poor quality water from their taps in Kelantan, more than 100 people held a demonstration here to express their anger. Representatives of more than 30 NGOs took part in a peaceful gathering outside the government complex in Kota Darul Naim.

The Gabungan Bertindak Restorasi Air Kelantan (Restorasi) NGO handed a memorandum to the PAS-led Kelantan government during the gathering.

The memorandum demanded for change in the management of the Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) which, they alleged, had failed to deliver quality treated water for more than a decade.

A spokesman for the group, Datuk Seri Mohd Fared Ghani, said the people were fed up with the state of the water supply services.

He said an independent auditor should be appointed to investigate AKSB’s non-revenue water losses and public funds spent to maintain the water agency.

“The people of Kelantan deserve to get clean and treated water like those in other states. We want changes to the state water supply company,” said Mohd Fared.

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Indonesia: Fires destroy land, conservation areas as people pray for rain

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb The Jakarta Post 24 Oct 16;

Massive land and forest fires in Limapuluh Kota regency, West Sumatra, over the past 20 days have destroyed 300 hectares of area, including 70 hectares of conservation forest.

Of the devastated conservation forest, 40 hectares were found in the Lembah Harau protected area and 30 hectares in the Air Putih Taram conservation area.

“The fire degraded the animal habitat and reduced biodiversity in the conservation areas,” said Zaidi, head of the Region I section with the West Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

He said the fire could also lead to a drought that could threaten the people’s water supply.

Local firefighters found it difficult to extinguish the fire due to the hard terrain of the area, forcing them to ask the central government to send a helicopter to ease their work.

By Saturday, the firefighters said they had extinguished the fire entirely following the deployment of the Bell PK-Puv helicopter belonging to the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

As a result of the massive forest fire, the tourist site Lembah Harau, which is also popularly known as the “Yosemite National Park of Indonesia” with giant rocks soaring up to 150 meters high, has lost some of its beauty.

The area was named a conservation site in 1926. The status was renewed in 1982. “Harau looks arid now,” said Zaidi, adding that young men used to go rock climbing at the site.

He also expressed the hope that the fire would not influence the animals in the forest, known as a habitat for golden cats and gibbons.

He added that based on the procedure of handling conservation areas, no reforestation program would be conducted in the burned conservation forests.

“We will continue monitoring the area to make sure that the plants grow naturally,” said Zaidi, adding that the forest was predicted to recover in two to three years.

He also said the planting of local trees could be undertaken by the monitoring officers while they conducted patrols around particular spots in the conservation forest.

Separately, R. Pagar Alam, the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) emergency and logistics division head, said the forest fire in Limapuluh Kota had been completely extinguished.

He said the 20-day fire had affected four districts in the regency, namely Harau, Mungka, Luhak and Kapus Sembilan.

“The big fire spots have been extinguished, but smaller ones, especially those whose locations could not be reached, might be still smoky,” he said.

The fire was alleged to have been triggered by uncontrolled land clearing activities using slash-and-burn methods.

Although heavy rainfall has been pouring over the provincial capital of Padang and its surroundings, Limapuluh Kota and Payakumbuh are still experiencing a prolonged dry season.

This moved the Payakumbuh administration to mobilize thousands of civil servants and students in the region to Poliko Square on Wednesday to participate in a mass Istisqa prayer to ask for rain.

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Best of our wild blogs: 24 Oct 16

Drawing Straws At Dairy Farm
Winging It

Bird Watching for Beginners 2 Oct 2016
Singapore Bird Group

Awesome October at Ubin
wild shores of singapore

Sat 05 Nov 2016 PM – Public Forum on Plastic Disposables (Zero Waste SG & Young NTUC)
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Male Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) being scavenged by Yellow Crazy Ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes)
Monday Morgue

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Warming seas cause longest coral bleaching in Singapore

This year's event more severe than two previous incidents, but some recovery seen
Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 24 Oct 16;

Warming seas caused Singapore's underwater gardens to lose their colour earlier this year, but the good news is that some corals are starting to recover from what is the longest bleaching incident to hit the Republic so far.

Preliminary assessments by scientists here have shown that this year's event is more severe than two other major bleaching events in 1998 and 2010. This year, as with both the other years, is an El Nino year. This refers to the phenomenon linked to prolonged warmer weather.

Corals depend on symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, for food. Bleaching occurs when abnormally high sea temperatures cause corals to expel the zooxanthellae living in them, turning them white.

In 2010, the bleaching event started in June and ended in September, said Dr Karenne Tun, director of the coastal and marine division at the National Parks Board's (NParks) National Biodiversity Centre.

And in 1998, it lasted from June to August, said coral expert Chou Loke Ming, an adjunct research professor at the National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute.

This year, however, water temperatures began exceeding the bleaching threshold of 31.14 deg C from end-April.

Water temperatures have since dropped to just below 30 deg C, which is still above the average temperature of 29.6 deg C expected at this time of the year.

"The sea surface temperatures dipped to just below the bleaching threshold from early June, but continued to remain above the maximum monthly mean till early October," said Dr Tun.

She added that scientists observed this month that recovery from bleaching is still ongoing. "But we are hopeful that the remaining bleached corals will recover within the next one to two months if the sea surface temperatures continue on their downward trend," she said.

A bleaching event is considered to have ended when sea surface temperatures go back to normal, said Prof Chou.

NParks has implemented measures to aid in the corals' recovery. For instance, it has closed the dive trails at the Sisters' Island Marine Park since June to minimise additional stress to the corals. The dive trails will remain closed until the end of this month.

Prof Chou said scientists are now following up on coral colonies affected to assess the survival rate. He added that while this year's bleaching event was the worst in terms of duration, it was too soon to compare the impact.

Mortality was about 20 per cent in 1998 and 12 per cent in 2010. But in both cases, he said, recovery was seen.

Coral bleaching is not just restricted to Singapore.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is also affected. But contrary to a recent "obituary" for the world's largest coral reef system published in Outside Magazine, it has not died.

The coral reef system is too large to simply die off, said Prof Chou. He added that while some parts of the system may die, it is also possible to end up with reefs with a different composition of coral species, depending on which can thrive under the changed conditions.

He added: "Singapore reefs have recovered from both bleaching events... and I take heart in reef resilience."

Related links
Mass coral bleaching in Singapore: why should I care? on wild shores of singapore

Community observations of mass coral bleaching in Singapore in 2016

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