American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Environmental Ethics in River Water Management

Ravichandran Moorthy and Ganesan Jeyabalan

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2011.370.376

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 7, Issue 4

Pages 370-376


Problem statement: Environmental ethics concerns human beings’ ethical relationship with the natural environment. The fundamental question regarding environmental ethics is basically-what moral obligations do we have concerning the natural environment? The main objective of this study is to examine the extent environmental ethics manifest in river management. The study employs the case study of Malaysia’s Gombak River-one of the most polluted urban rivers that run through some heavily inhabited urban areas. The study examines how the Department of Environment (DOE), Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) manage the problem of pollution in the Gombak River. Approach: This study uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis. A quantitative approach is employed to assess the water quality in several points along Gombak River. This is done by way of series of scientific testing to determine the level of pollution in the river. Secondly, a qualitative approach is applied on the data gathered through expert interviews on inter-agency coordination efforts to manage pollution problems. Results: The study firstly shows that the Gombak River is considerably polluted, with higher levels of pollution in upstream as compared to the downstream. The second finding suggests that notwithstanding several legislations that are already in place, there is sluggishness in the enforcement of pollution mitigation efforts as a result of ineffective inter-agency communication and coordination. Conclusion: The lack of concerted and coordinated efforts between river management agencies have been cited as one of the main factors contributing to river pollution. Therefore, the agencies concerned should embark on cohesive measures to ensure the rivers are managed well and its water quality controlled. This requires for a structured coordination mechanism between agencies to be put in place and such mechanism can be emulated in the management of other rivers in the country.


© 2011 Ravichandran Moorthy and Ganesan Jeyabalan. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.