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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maketab Mohamed

Institute of Environmental and Water Resource Management (IPASA)
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

October 2, 2008

Cameron Highlands is the most popular cool clime, mountainous holiday destination
in Malaysia. The main attractions are the pleasant climate, flower, vegetable and fruit
farms and nature trails.

The boon of tourism and agriculture i.e. the flower, vegetable and fruit farms have
also proven to be a bane for Cameron Highlands. The water supplies for the
communities as well as the hotels for the tourists are compromised in both quality
and quantity due to their existence. During weekends, public holidays and school
holidays, the amount of potable water produced is not enough while the quantity is
compromised due to the raw water contamination by total and fecal coliforms
resulting from the locations of the water intakes and new farms upstream of the water
intake(s) and the failure of the water supply operators to treat the potable water up to
the necessary health standards.


This sanitary survey is a community service study carried out by the Institute of
Environmental and Water Resource Management (IPASA) to assist Regional
Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (REACH) and is financed by the
Research and Management Center (RMC) of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. The
objectives of the survey include, but are not limited to:

a) Carrying out a field survey of the inventory of pollution sources of the

important watersheds that supply potable water to Cameron Highlands;
b) Compiling the past data or history of the quality of the water supply of
Cameron Highlands;
c) Carrying out the discharge or flow measurements of the important streams in
Cameron Highlands;
d) Sampling and analyzing both the raw and treated water of Cameron
e) Writing a comprehensive report of the water supply problems in Cameron
Highlands, and last but not least;
f) Disseminating the report and information to the relevant authorities including
government departments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the

The ultimate objective is for the relevant authorities to sit up, take notice and
effectively tackle all pertaining issues related to the water supply in Cameron


Water is essential for sustaining life, and a satisfactory (adequate, safe and
accessible) supply must be available to all citizens. Improving access to safe drinking
water can result in tangible health benefits. Every effort should be made to achieve a
drinking water quality as safe as practicable.

Safe drinking water does not represent any significant risk to health over a lifetime of
consumption, taking into account the different sensitivities that may occur between
life stages. Those at greatest risk of waterborne diseases are infants and young
children, people who are debilitated or living under unsanitary conditions, and the
elderly. Safe drinking water is suitable for all usual domestic purposes, including
personal hygiene. Safe drinking water standards are applicable to packaged water
and ice intended for human consumption (WHO, 2006).

Microbial Aspects

The most common and widespread health risk associated with drinking water is
microbial contamination, and its control must always be of paramount importance.
Priority needs to be given to improving and developing the drinking water supplies
that represent the greatest public health risk.

Securing the microbial safety of drinking water supplies is based on the use of
multiple barriers, from watershed to consumer, to prevent the contamination of
drinking water or to reduce contamination to levels not injurious to health. Safety is
increased if multiple barriers are in place, including protection of water resources
within the watershed, proper selection and operation of a series of treatment steps
and management of distribution systems (piped or otherwise) to maintain and protect
treated water quality. The preferred strategy is a management approach that places
the primary emphasis on preventing or reducing the entry of pathogens into water
sources (watershed or water resource management) and reducing reliance on
treatment processes for removal of pathogens i.e. preventive versus curative.

Generally, the greatest microbial risks are associated with ingestion of water that is
contaminated with human or animal (including bird) feces. Feces can be a source of
pathogenic bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths.

Fecally derived pathogens are the principal concerns in setting health-based targets
for microbial safety. Microbial water quality often varies rapidly and over a wide
range. Short-term peaks in pathogen concentration may increase disease risks
considerably and may trigger outbreaks of waterborne disease. Furthermore, by the
time microbial contamination is detected, many people may have been exposed. For
these reasons, reliance cannot be placed solely on end-product testing, even when
frequent, to ensure the microbial safety of drinking water.

Failure to ensure drinking water safety may expose the community to the risk of
outbreaks of intestinal and other infectious diseases. Drinking water-borne outbreaks
are particularly to be avoided because of their capacity to result in the simultaneous
infection of a large number of persons and potentially a high proportion of the
community (WHO, 2006).


Disinfection is of unquestionable importance in the supply of safe drinking water.

The destruction of microbial pathogens is essential and very commonly involves the
use of reactive chemical agents such as chlorine.

Disinfection is an effective barrier to many pathogens (especially bacteria) during

drinking water treatment and should be used for surface waters and for groundwater
subject to fecal contamination. Residual disinfection is used to provide a partial
safeguard against low-level contamination and growth within the distribution system.

Chemical disinfection of a drinking water supply that is fecally contaminated will

reduce the overall risk of disease but may not necessarily render the supply safe. For
example, chlorine disinfection of drinking water has limitations against the protozoan
pathogens – in particular Cryptosporidium – and some viruses. Disinfection efficacy
may also be unsatisfactory against pathogens within flocs or particles (water with
high turbidity or total suspended solids (TSS)), which protect them from disinfectant
action. High levels of turbidity can protect microorganisms from the effects of
disinfection, stimulate the growth of bacteria and give rise to a significant chlorine
demand. An effective overall management strategy incorporates multiple barriers,
including source water protection and appropriate treatment processes, as well as
protection during storage and distribution in conjunction with disinfection to prevent
or remove microbial contamination (WHO, 2006).

Water Resource Management

Water resource management is an integral aspect of the preventive management of

drinking water quality. Prevention of microbial and chemical contamination of source
water is the first barrier against drinking water contamination of public health

Water resource management and potentially polluting human activity in the

watershed will influence water quality downstream and in aquifers. This will impact
on treatment steps required to ensure safe water, and preventive action may be
preferable to upgrading treatment.

The influence of land use on water quality should be assessed as part of water
resource management. This assessment is not normally undertaken by health
authorities or drinking water supply agencies alone and should take into

! Land cover modification;

! Extraction activities;
! Construction/modification of waterways;
! Application of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals;
! Livestock presence, density and application of manure;
! Road construction, maintenance and use;
! Various forms of recreation within the watershed;
! Urban or rural residential development, with particular attention to domestic
wastewater disposal, sanitation, landfill and waste disposal; and
! Other potentially polluting human activities, such as location of wastewater from
industrial activities etc.

Water resource management may be the responsibility of watershed management

agencies and/or other entities controlling or affecting water resources such as
industrial, agricultural, navigation and flood control entities.

The extent to which the responsibilities of health or drinking water supply agencies
include water resource management varies greatly between countries and
communities. Regardless of government structures and sector responsibilities, it is
important that health authorities liaise and collaborate with sectors managing the
water resource and regulating land use in the watershed.

Establishing close collaboration between the public health authorities, water supplier
and resource management agency assists recognition of the health hazards
potentially occurring in the system. It is also important for ensuring that the protection
of drinking water resources is considered in decisions for land use or regulations to
control contamination of water resources. Depending on the setting, this may include
involvement of further sectors, such as agriculture, traffic, tourism or urban

To ensure the adequate protection of drinking water sources, national authorities will
normally interact with other sectors in formulating national policy for integrated water
resource management. Regional and local structures for implementing the policy will
be set up, and national authorities will guide regional and local authorities by
providing tools (WHO, 2006).

Regional environmental or public health authorities have an important task in

participating in the preparation of integrated water resource management plans to
ensure the best available drinking water source quality.


Arguably, all the critical drinking water resources streams and rivers of Cameron
Highlands are within the greater Sg. Pahang watershed. There are three important
watersheds for the water supply of Cameron Highlands, namely the Ulu Sg. Bertam,
Sg. Burung and Sg. Terla watersheds.

The study area is shown in Figure 2, which indicates the locations of the water
intakes and water quality sampling sites.

Ulu Sg. Bertam

Ulu Sg. Bertam originates from the eastern face of Gunung Brinchang and later, as
Sg. Bertam, flows through Brinchang, Cameron Highlands’ Nine, Tanah Rata,
Robinson’s Falls and through Habu and becomes part of the Sultan Abu Bakar
reservoir. Although most of the watershed is forested, there are both legal and illegal
farms located upstream of the water intake due to the accessibility of the area via the
road to the peak of Gunung Brinchang.

Even the intake point and treatment enclosure of Ulu Sg. Bertam are breached by
farmers to steal water for their farms downstream (Figure 1). Therefore both the
water quantity and water quality of the Ulu Sg. Bertam intake and treatment plant are

Figure 1: Pipes for farm irrigation within the Ulu Sg Bertam water intake and
treatment enclosure
Ulu Sg. Telom

Ulu Sg. Terla

Sg. Ikan at Kg. Raja

Sg Telom at Kg. Raja

Sg Terla Intake

Kuala Sg. Terla

Ulu Sg Bertam

Sg Burung

Sg Bertam at
Tanah Rata

Water Intake Figure 2: Map of Relevant Water Intakes and Sampling Sites

Water Quality Sampling Station

Sg. Burung Watershed

Sg. Burung is a tributary of Sg. Mensun, which joins Sg .Bertam at Kg. Mensun, an
Orang Asli community downstream. Part of the Sg. Burung watershed is forested
while the other part borders with the Cameron Highlands main road to Kea Farms.
The clean raw water from the forested watershed is polluted by stormwater from the
road as well as from sullage and wastewater discharge from a restaurant near the
road (Figure 3). Due to complaints from the public especially through REACH, a
barrier was built to ensure that stormwater from the road and wastewater from the
restaurant and other roadside flower and vegetable shops on the way to Kea Farms
do not contaminate the raw water for the Sg. Burung treatment plant (Figure 4).

The barrier works especially in blocking the wastewater from the stream, draining the
roadside watershed, but during heavy rain, the stormwater can still mix with the
cleaner water from the forested watershed (REACH, 2008).

Figure 3: Brinchang to Tringkap Main Road near Kea Farms – part of the Sg. Burong
Intake Watershed
Figure 4: Sg Burung Water Intake. Note the barrier/bund within the intake and the
storm drain

Sg. Terla Watershed

Sg. Terla is a tributary of Sg. Telom, which joins Sg. Bertam at Kg. Tiat, an Orang
Asli community downstream. The Sg. Terla water treatment plant provides around
80% of the potable water for Cameron Highlands, therefore the protection of the
watershed is of critical importance.

There are already several farms upstream of the water intake. These farms are
accessible through the road to the water treatment plant just after Pekan Kuala Terla.
There are also new farms, which were allowed to be established by the District Office
of Cameron Highlands and are now a major threat to the quality of the raw water
(Figure 5), especially in the form of TSS (Figures 6 and 7) and both fecal and total
coliforms due to the presence of human activities and usage of organic fertilizers
from animal sources such as chicken droppings. The new farms also have become
the possible source of pesticides (Figure 8) and nutrients (Total N and Total P) from
both organic and inorganic fertilizers. The road linking Simpang Pulai to Cameron
Highlands and Gua Musang has made the upper catchment of Sg. Terla more easily
Figure 5: New Farms at Ulu Sg. Terla (upstream of Sg. Terla Water Intake)

Figure 6: Water sampling at Ulu Sg. Terla near former MTD work site. Note the
clarity of the water then
Figure 7: Ulu Sg. Terla near Sg. Terla water intake (photo taken recently). Note the
turbidity of the water even during a dry period and compare it the turbidity of
the water in Figure 6

Figure 8: Empty bottles of pesticides used at new farms UPSTREAM of Sg. Terla
water intake. Some of pesticides were banned in Malaysia and the bottles
have Thai script written on them
Two other pollution sources nearby are the squatters at the old MTD site office and a
cattle rearing operation near the MTD site on the banks of Sg. Terla (Figures 9 and
10). There are cattle sheds below the bridge on both sides of the stream. Non-point
source pollution (NPS) in the form of runoff from the cattle pasture during a rainfall
will bring pollutants such as nitrate and phosphate into the river. Bacterial and viral
pollution also would occur. Specifically, Cryptosporidium contamination could occur,
which chlorination at the Sg. Terla Treatment Plant cannot get rid of, as this
particular protozoon is immune to chlorination.

Figure 9: Former MTD Site occupied by squatters. Empty space in foreground has
become cattle pasture

Figure 10: Cattle Pasture on the banks of Ulu Sg. Terla near former MTD Site
In 1993, about 400, 000 residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (population: 1.61
million) came down with stomach cramps and diarrhea due to drinking water
contamination by Cryptosporidium cysts.


Quantity of Treated Water

In 2005, an estimated total of 5.8 million litres per day (MLD) of water was
abstracted and processed at several water intake points from streams and rivers
originating from the local montane forests for drinking water supply (Table ).The
main water supply then was from the Sg Burung water plant.

Table 1: Existing Water Supply in Cameron Highlands, 2005 (EPU, Prime

Minister’s Dept.)

Existing Water Supply Capacity (MLD)

Sg Burong 2.6
Kg Raja 0.23
Kuala Terla (existing) 0.23
Kea Farm 0.23
Tringkap 0.23
Brinchang 1.5
Habu (existing) 0.02
Lubok Tamang 0.006
Ringlet 0.57
Lembah Bertam 0.23
Total 5.846

Table 2: Past and Present Water Demand for Cameron Highlands (2005)

Year Projected Total Losses Demand

Population (MLD) (MLD) (MLD)

2000 28,050 10.9 3.3 14.2

2005 29,627 14.0 4.0 18.0
2010 31,293 16.4 4.3 20.7
2015 32,889 19.3 4.2 23.6
2020 34,567 22.3 4.0 26.3
Source: Pahang Water Resources Study (1999)

Based on the estimated demand of 14 MLD of water (Table 1.2) this gives a shortage
of around 8.2 MLD.

Two new schemes were proposed in 2005 to overcome the water shortage
problems. The schemes are the Sg Terla and Habu schemes.
Sg Terla Water Treatment Plant

The Sg. Terla Water Treatment Plan is a scheme to yield a total of 43 MLD to be
implemented in four stages. Stages I and II were completed yielding 26 MLD and the
reminder to be completed by 2020 and 2030.

This is the scheme whereby the presence of existing and new farms upstream of the
water intake point is compromising the quality of the source water.

Habu Water Treatment Plant

Meanwhile the Habu scheme was implemented in 2005 yielding another 9 MLD and
eventually 23 MLD by 2035. This scheme also faces problems such as farmers
siphoning water for irrigating their crops from the catchment areas upstream of the
water intake point.

Quality of Potable Water

Biological Contaminants

Based on the latest studies done by REACH in 2005 on treated drinking water there
was an alarming increase in the presence of E. coli in samples taken from eight sites
compared to those in 2003. At the same time treated water samples taken by the
Cameron Highlands’ Health Department indicated gross contamination of E. coli as
the results given were written as “too numerous to count” (TNTC). These readings
meant the colonies exceeded 200 counts/plate.

According to the WHO standards, untreated water supplies should have less than 10
cfu/100 mL, while there should not be any fecal coliform (E. coli) in treated water.

E. coli or fecal coliform is an indicator of the presence of faecal matter in the water. It
is commonly found in sewage, industrial effluents; and natural waters and soils
subject to recent faecal contamination from humans, farm animals, manure, wild
animals and birds. Chicken manure is commonly used in farms therefore the most
possible source of contamination. Human feces, in areas where there are proper
sewage treatment, too form a likely source.

The presence of E. coli in water always indicates potentially dangerous

contamination requiring immediate action. This is to prevent possible waterborne
diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, gastroenteritis, hepatitis etc. from

Chemical contaminants

While chemical contaminants have been found in most rivers in Cameron Highlands
it is the contaminants in the water intake points that of utmost concern.

a. Sg Burung water treatment plant

In April 2005, Kosmo! a Malay language newspaper found banned pesticides

including the dreaded DDT (dichloro diphenyl trichoroethane.) in a stream flowing
into the intake point for this plant. An accredited laboratory conducted the analytical
tests. The concentration is at 0.970 mg/L i.e. 20,000 times higher than the
permissible level. Other pesticides found include aldrin and heptachlor. The results
concurred with a recent study carried out by REACH in 2005, which found high levels
of pesticides as well as increased values of heavy metals such as arsenic. lead,
mercury and cadmium.

b. Sg Terla water treatment plant (2005)

Even in 205 there were many farms, which are located above the water intake point.
This inherent problem needs to be addressed before the situation gets worse.


The study involved watershed delineations, pollution sources survey, discharge

measurement, in situ water quality measurements and water quality samplings for
laboratory analyses. The river water samplings were carried out at various sites as
indicated in Figures 2 and 6; and Tables 6 and 7.

Raw water at the treatment plants as well as potable water at various consumer
points was sampled for two days as indicated in Tables 4 and 5.

Discharge measurements, which used the area method using a current meter were
taken. The discharge measurements were not required for the sanitary survey, but
the need is there for water quality modeling in the future (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Discharge (Q) Measurement at Ulu Sg. Terla

The in situ water quality measurements used Yellow Springs Instruments YSI Model
85 (Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, Conductivity and Salinity Meter) and HACH
Portable Turbidity Meter.
Water samples for laboratory analyses were preserved accordingly i.e. with 1 + 1
sulfuric acid for parameters such as ammoniacal nitrogen, nitrate and reactive
phosphate while for organics the samples were preserved in ice (Figure 12).
Samples for microbiological examinations were sampled using sterile glass bottles
and were also preserved in ice and sent immediately to the laboratory in Ipoh for

Figure 12: Sample Preservation and in situ Turbidity Measurement at Ulu Sg. Terla

All analytical methods comply with the Standard Methods for the Examination of
Water and Wastewater (AWWA, APHA and WEF)


Past water quality results of the treated water for Cameron Highlands indicate the
failure of the treatment plant(s) in the removal of the total and fecal coliforms/E. coli
(TC and FC respectively). As seen in Table 3, the presence of TC and FC goes
together with the absence of residual chlorine in the treated water. Both the TC and
FC were recorded as TNTC (too numerous to count), which means that the number
of colonies exceeded 200 colony-forming units (cfu) per 100 mL).

The maximum allowable WHO value for free chlorine residual in drinking water is 5
mg/L. The minimum recommended WHO value for free chlorine residual in treated
drinking water is 0.2 mg/L. It is recommended not to exceed 2.0 mg/L due to taste
Table 3: Treated Water Quality for Cameron Highlands, sampled on 28 June 2004
(Department of Chemistry, Malaysia)
No. Station Location Residual Total Fecal
Number Chlorine Coliforms Coliforms
(mg/L) (cfu/100 mL) (cfu/100 mL)
1. BR/003 TPO (Treatment Plant) 0 TNTC TNTC
2. BR/004 SRO (Pej. Pertanian, 1.0 <1 <1
3. BR/005 SRO (Women’s Institute) 0 2 <1
4. BR/006 Distribution Pipe, Golf 0.6 <1 <1
5. BR/007 Distribution Pipe, Primary 0 TNTC TNTC
School Brinchang
6. BR/008 Distribution Pipe, Buddhist 0.6 <1 <1
Temple, Brinchang
7. BR/009 Distribution Jasar Valley 0 TNTC TNTC
8. KR/002 TPO Kg Baru 1.0 <1 <1
9. TP/002 TPO Dewan Tringkap 1.5 <1 <1

Table 4: Microbiological Sampling Results by UTM/REACH (21 Jan. 2008)

Type of Total Coliforms Fecal Coliforms
No. Sampling Site River Water (Cfu/100ml) (cfu/100 mL)
1 MTD-Bridge Sg. Terla Raw Water <10 <10
Sg. Terla
2 MTD-After Housing Raw Water 2.0 X 101 <10
3 Food Stalls at Kg Raja Water <10 <10
Spring Water
Kuala Terla- Spring (besides the
4 Water 1 road) Raw Water 2.5 X102 1.0 X102
5 Kuala Terla Intake Sg Terla Raw Water <10 <10
6 Kuala Terla-Temple Water <10 <10
Tringkap Community Treated
7 Hall Water <10 <10
Sg Burung Treatment Sg. Burung
8 Plant Raw Water 2.0 X 101 <10
Ulu Sg Bertam Ulu Sg.
9 Treatment Plant Bertam Raw Water 6 <10
10 Army camp, Brinchang Water 3.0 X102 1.0 X102
11 Petronas, Brinchang Water 1.5 X103 <10
12 KFC, Brinchang Water 2.5 X102 <10
Jasar Valley Distribution Treated
13 (BR/009) Water <10 <10
Chennai Curry House, Treated
14 Tanah Rata Water <10 <10
15 WI-gerai Water <10 <10
Table 5: Microbiological Sampling Results by UTM/REACH (22 Jan. 2008)
Type of Total Coliforms Fecal Coliforms
No. Sampling Site River Water (cfu/100ml) (cfu/100 mL)
1 MTD-Bridge Sg. Terla Raw Water 1.0 X102 5.0 X 101
2 MTD-After Housing Sg. Terla Raw Water 2.0 X 101 <10
3 Gerai-Gerai at Kg Raja Water <10 <10
4 Kuala Terla Intake Sg Terla Raw Water 3.0 X102 <10
5 Kuala Terla-Temple Sg Terla Raw Water <10 <10
Spring Water Treated
Kuala Terla- Spring (besides the Water
6 Water 2 road) <10 <10
7 Tringkap-Dewan Water <10 <10
Sg Burung Treatment Sg. Burung
8 Plant Raw Water 1.0 X 101 <10
Ulu Sg Bertam Ulu Sg.
9 Treatment Plant Bertam Raw Water 2 <10
Sekolah Kebangsaan Treated
10 Brinchang Water <10 <10
11 Petronas, Brinchang Water <10 <10
12 KFC, Brinchang Water <10 <10
Jasar Valley Treated
13 Distribution (BR/009) Water <10 <10
Chennai Curry House, Treated
14 Tanah Rata Water <10 <10
15 WI-gerai Water <10 <10

Table 6: Water Quality Results – Laboratory Analyses (sampled on 22 Jan. 2008)

No. Sampling Sites BOD COD TSS Ammoniacal Nitrate Phosphate
(mg/L) (mg/L) (mg/L) Nitrogen (mg/L) (mg/L)
1 Hulu Sg. Terla (at MTD, 0.95 15 4 0.12 0.23 3.6
under bridge)
2 Hulu Sg. Telom 0.99 10 12 0.07 1.18 0.34
3 Sg. Ikan near junction with 3.85 8 20 1.16 1.20 1.95
Sg. Telom
4 Sg. Telom after confluence 4.02 9 68 0.44 0.65 1.62
with Sg Ikan at Kg. Raja
5 Sg. Terla near K. Terla 2.80 54 16 0.22 0.39 0.75
6 Sg. Burung at intake 1.85 15 10 0.10 0.12 0.47
7 Ulu Sg. Bertam at intake 0.60 87 6 0.27 0.15 0.38
8 Sg. Bertam after Brinchang 2.64 53 26 0.39 0.34 3.17
and Golf Course
9 Sg. Bertam at Tanah Rata 3.11 12 28 0.27 0.41 1.02
10 Sg. Jasar at before Sg. 11.37 88 18 1.40 0.30 3.9
Bertam, at Tanah Rata
Table 7: Water Quality Results – In situ samplings (sampled on 22 Jan. 2008)
No. Sampling Sites DO DO sat. Temp. Conductivity Salinity Turbidity
(mg/L) (%) (oC) (µS/cm) (ppt) (NTU)
1 Hulu Sg. Terla (at MTD, 9.31 96.9 17.0 22.5 0.0 3.92
under bridge)
2 Hulu Sg. Telom 8.94 91.2 17.1 17.2 0.0 16.2
3 Sg. Ikan near junction with 8.74 94.2 19.3 97.9 0.1 21.8
Sg. Telom
4 Sg. Telom after confluence 8.66 98.5 18.8 53.8 0.0 32.2
with Sg Ikan at Kg. Raja
5 Sg. Terla near K. Terla 9.64 103.7 18.7 32.8 0.0 45.9
6 Sg. Burung at intake 9.08 95.0 17.5 20.0 0.0 2.28
7 Ulu Sg. Bertam at intake 8.93 90.6 17.1 13.3 0.0 1.99
8 Sg. Bertam after Brinchang 8.20 97.2 22.3 56.9 0.0 5.64
and Golf Course
9 Sg. Bertam at Tanah Rata 8.22 94.4 22.0 52.6 0.0 6.12
10 Sg. Jasar at before Sg. 4.53 51.7 21.4 81.1 0.0 10.2
Bertam, at Tanah Rata

Table 4 also indicates non-compliance for the microbiological parameters at the

Army Camp in Brinchang, the PETRONAS station at Brinchang and the KFC
restaurant at Brinchang.

The water quality at Ulu Sg. Terla at the MTD site (Sampling Site 1 in Tables 4 - 7)
indicates good water quality when the samplings were carried out in January 2008.
The dissolved oxygen was high, the TSS and turbidity were very low, and the
ammoniacal nitrogen was also low. The TC and FC were 100 and 50 cfu/100 mL,
which is relatively good.

The presence of the new farms, which cleared the forested lands UPSTREAM of the
sampling site and the water intake for the Sg. Terla Treatment Plant very likely
compromises the water quality of raw water for the potable water of Cameron
Highlands, especially after a rainfall. The TSS and turbidity of Sg. Terla have likely
multiplied multiple-fold, which will increase the cost of water treatment.


The raw water of Ulu Sg. Terla has been compromised due to the presence of the
newly opened farms upstream of the Sg. Terla Water Treatment Plant. Increased
turbidity and TSS incur increased treatment costs. The presence of high TSS also
allows for bacteria and viruses to “hide” among the particulate, which causes the
bacteria to survive the chlorination and remain in the system even after treatment.

Other contamination such as from pesticides and fertilizers used also must be

The presence of the cattle-rearing project at the MTD location also compromises the
microbiological safety of the drinking water, particularly in the case of protozoa such
as Cryptosporidium cysts, which are resistant to chlorination.

In line with the general practice of watershed management for the purpose of
drinking water supply, there should not be any farms or human habitation within the
Sg Terla watershed. The old or new farms, as well as the illegal human settlement at
the MTD site and the cattle-rearing operation, should be closed immediately for the
good of the people and tourists visiting Cameron Highlands.

Thanks to the Research Management Center (RMC) of UTM for giving the financial
backing for this Community Service project. Special thanks to REACH, especially the
President, Mr. Ramakrishnan Ramasamy and other REACH members such Dr. Liau
Tai Leong, who provided the accommodations and Mr. Rajoo, who provided good

Thanks are also due to Mr Fazly Azahar, who assisted in samplings and discharge
measurements and Mrs. Noraidah Zhwal for analyzing the water samples.


REACH, 2007. Personal Communication.

USEPA Website, 2008. Guidance for People with Severely Weakened Immune
Systems Accessed on 25 Aug 2008.

WHO, 2006. Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality FIRST ADDENDUM TO THIRD
EDITION, Volume 1: Recommendations.
APPENDIX 1: Interim National Water Quality Standards for Malaysia
(Selected Parameters)

Ammoniacal 0.1 0.3 0.9 2.7 2.7
Nitrogen, mg/L
BOD5, mg/L 1 3 6 12 12
COD, mg/L 10 25 50 100 100
DO, mg/L !7 5-7 3-5 3-1 <1
pH 6.5 – 8.5 6.5 - 9 5-9 5-9 -
Electrical 1000 1000 - 6000 -
Salinity, ppt 0.5 1 - 2 -
Total Suspended 25 50 150 300 300
Solids, mg/L
Temperature, C - Normal + 20 Normal + 20 - -
o o
Turbidity, NTU 5 50 50 - -
Fecal Coliforms, 10 100/400 5000 5000 -
a a
counts/100 mL (20000) (20000)
Total Coliforms, 100 5000 50000 50000 > 50000
counts/100 mL
Zinc, mg/L Natural 5 0.4 2 Levels
Levels above Class
Cadmium, mg/L Natural 0.01 0.01 (0.001) 0.01 Levels
Levels above Class
Lead, mg/L Natural 0.05 0.02 (0.01) 5 Levels
Levels above Class
Copper, mg/L Natural 0.02 - 0.2 Levels
Levels above Class
Nitrite (NO2) Natural 0.4 0.4 (0.03) - Levels
Levels above Class
Nitrate (NO3) Natural 7 - 5 Levels
Levels above Class
Phosphorus, mg/L Natural 0.2 0.1 - Levels
Levels above Class

* = At hardness 50 mg/L CaCO3

# = Maximum (unbracketed) and 24-hour average (bracketed)
a = Maximum not to be exceeded