V. CASE STUDY: MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION OF FRESHWATER RESOURCES IN KUALA LUMPUR
C. Protection of water quality and habitats
1. River reserves and aquatic communities
In their natural state, the majority of the rivers in Kuala Lumpur would be lowland rivers, typically with their banks lined with neram trees. Before the advent of human settlements, they flowed through rich lowland forests, within which was a distinctive riparian vegetation that included overhanging trees which provided shade and nutritive inputs such as fallen leaves and fruits. They also contained a diverse aquatic and amphibious fauna of fish and invertebrates.
Today, no such rivers exist in Kuala Lumpur and they will never be reconstructed. However, much can be done to improve the present degraded condition of the rivers, which is the result of:
Bare soil conditions that occur anywhere in the catchment areas, from within the city confines to upstream areas beyond the city limits, yield sediment that is washed into the rivers, raising their silt load and making the water turbid. Turbidity limits light penetration and kills aquatic life.
Although awareness is generally high among government officials and the public that the rivers in Kuala Lumpur need to be cleaned up and their aquatic life restored, action to tackle the problem in a holistic way has yet to be taken. Contributory factors must be tackled at source and their adverse effects cleaned up. Briefly, this amounts to prevention as well as cure. In addition, there have been indications that the government intends to privatize the river banks of the Gombak and Klang rivers within the city limits in order to construct the "Kuala Lumpur linear city". However, the actual plan for that massive and ambitious project has not yet been revealed to the public.