Sustainability Science Demonstration Site 2 : Langat River Basin, Malaysia

Langat-River-UNESCOThe Langat River Basin, a UNESCO HELP (Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy) River Basin, is an important water catchment area, a source of hydropower, and a source of raw water supply and other amenities to approximately more than 1.59 million people and conurbations that include towns such as Cheras, Bangi, Kajang and Putrajaya, the Federal Government Administrative Centre. The area surrounding the Langat River Basin is facing rapid development in terms of urbanisation, industrialisation, road network and agriculture, bringing conflicts of harmony with the river environment, and increases the degree of pollution into the river channels. The Langat River Basin has been selected as a Sustainability Science demonstration site of UNESCO in order to demonstrate how sustainability science-based solution can support a holistic river management beyond traditional approaches which often overlook social and ecological needs.

Under the study, four analyses were conducted for Langat River Basin to understand the current situation and trends in the area. The first analysis on Land Use and Land Cover Changes Trends (using 2013 data and earlier) found that tremendous changes have happened in the river basin related to decreasing of forest area, mangroves and peat swamp areas as well as agriculture area. The second analysis on River Water Quality Index (WQI) status (using secondary data from 2003-2014) found that the 15 selected rivers are mostly at Class II (Slightly Polluted) and some others at Class III (Polluted) condition. The third analysis on rainfall patterns and flood occurrence trends, indicated that flooding in Langat River Basin is heavily influenced by the rainfall activities most probably due to the urban stormwater management system. The last analysis on Watershed Sustainability Index (WSI) using Hydrology, Environment, Life, Policy (HELP) indicators for 2009-2013 found that the overall WSI score for Langat River Basin is 0.74 (maximum value is 1), indicating sustainable condition with some improvements recommended.

A further analysis generated from data collection, stakeholder consultation workshops and site visits, found four key issues of the river basin: deterioration of water quality, water shortage, urban stormwater and fragmentation of administration. Responding to these issues, a Rehabilitation and Restoration Plan for Langat River Basin has been developed under the study, focusing on water quality degradation and riparian zone rehabilitation at selected Langat River stretch to improve river basin management. Also, an Urban Stormwater Management Plan for Langat River Basin was also developed and proposed, which focuses on (i) slope protection; (ii) porous pavement; (iii) bio-retention system; and (iv) constructed wetland.

To address the four identified key issues of Langat River Basin, strategy and accompanying actions have been recommended by the study. The strategy is outlined below:

Issues Strategy
Water Shortage 1. Increasing development of surface water resources
2. Increasing usage of groundwater
3. Exploration of alternative water resources
4. Integration of water resources management
5. Greater emphasis on demand management
6. Creation of water storage and detention basins for flood control by integrating open mining ponds into urban built environment
Deterioration of water quality 1. Preservation of water source area
2. Sustainable management of river riparian corridors
3. Minimise pollution sources and improve water quality
4. Protection of Environmentally Sensitive Areas Urban Stormwater Management
Urban Stormwater Management 1. Development of an integrated basin flood management master plan
2. Undertaking of non-structural measures
3. Implementation of structural measures
4.  Upgrading of urban drainage management systems
5. Appropriate planning and urban design in flood-prone areas, ex-tin mining and sand- mining ponds, riparian areas and property with river frontage
Fragmentation in Administration 1. Legislation and enforcement
2. Improve information sharing and dissemination
3. Improve capacity building for river basin management and public participation
4. Management tools
5. Safeguard heritage sites, traditional settlements and orang asli land, particularly in the upper Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Lenggeng for heritage and historical purpose

To further pave the way towards sustainability, five sustainability science components are recommended by this study, which are: a) Enabling environment, b) Organization and institutional roles, c) Implementation instruments, d) Education and outreach, e) Monitoring and evaluation.

Lastly, this study also proposed the development of Langat Research Information Centre (LRIC) for Sustainability of Langat River Basin in order to have comprehensive, integrated information about Langat River Basin.

The stakeholders consulted during the project are :

Government (State & Federal Agency):

  • Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS)
  • Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID)
  • Department of Environment (DOE)
  • Department of Agriculture (DOA)
  • Department of Statistic Malaysia
  • Economic Planning Unit (EPU)
  • National Water Services Commission (SPAN)
  • National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM)


Government (Ministry):

  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE)
  • Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA)


Government (Local Authority):

  • Putrajaya Corportaion (PPj)
  • Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj)
  • Kuala Langat District Council (MDKL)
  • Sepang Municipal Council (MPS)

  • NGO:

  • UNESCO-IHP Malaysia
  • Humid Tropic Centre Kuala Lumpur (HTCKL)
  • Global Environment Centre (GEC)
  • Malaysian Water Partnership (MyWP)
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia
  • Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM)
  • EcoKnights

  • Private:

  • Indah Water Konsortium (IWK)
  • Eco. Dev. Facilities Sdn. Bhd.

  • University:

  • Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
  • Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
  • University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL)
  • Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)
  • International Islamic University College (KUIS)

  • Community:

  • Indigenous People in Kuala Langat
  • Local Communities in Langat River Basin (Bangi, Kajang, Putrajaya, Nilai etc)
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