WWF representatives with volunteers, sponsors and Water Heroes.

I REMEMBER the time I heard about the chemical pollution in Langat River, Selangor.

To me, it was just another environmental incident and it didn’t really have anything to do with my life.

It wasn’t until one or two years ago that I started becoming more interested in environmental issues.

It was probably brought about by the relentless commercials on global warming.

It started slowly, of course. Baby steps for sure. Generating less waste, reducing plastic use and making active efforts to recycle.

Recently, I had the honour of being appointed as World Wide Fund for Nature’s ( WWF)'s Water Hero. I was privileged enough to be invited to join their Journey of Water expedition.

It is an initiative to raise awareness on the arduous journey of our water source, beginning from the river, all the way downstream, through our water treatment facilities and finally, to our taps.

THE JOURNEY OF WATER

I’ll be honest. Initially, I didn’t know much about water processes. All I knew was that

when I flush the toilet, everything disappears and goes to a “secret place”.

The Journey of Water was an opportunity for me to learn more about water processes and help raise public awareness.

We went to the Hulu Langat Forest Reserve for a walk through the greens with an expert on botany who explained the history of the trees.

These trees play an important role in controlling soil erosion and the accumulation of water to be fed to the rivers, and the more we cut them down, the less effective these natural reservoirs become.

I was delighted to learn that almost 80 per cent of modern medicine is the result of research done on forest plants. Nature really is the best healer.

As we continued our expedition to the rivers, I learnt the significance of water organisms in indicating how clean water is.

Have you ever noticed the buzzing insects or the little critters whenever you’re out there enjoying waterfalls and creeks?

Well, the presence of specific species are early signs of whether the water is clean or polluted. I’m pretty sure I’ll never ignore them again the next time I go trekking!

I also had the privilege of visiting some water treatment facilities where I finally satisfied my curiosity about what happens when we flush the toilet, and how water ends up in our taps at home.

I was educated by water professionals at these facilities on the effects of river pollution such as the incident in Langat River.

Polluted water is harder to treat. To ensure that it is safe enough for everyone to use and consume, treatment chemicals must be applied.

What this means is that the more polluted the river system, the more treatment chemicals are used and therefore, more of these chemicals are consumed by you and me.

The impact of water pollution affects all of us and not merely animals living in them or people living near the water source.

WATER AFFECTS EVERYONE

Sometimes, it’s hard for us to care about an environmental issue if we don’t see its impact or the danger it poses.

I have been guilty of this on occasion. Going for an environmental expedition like this certainly opened my eyes to the severity of water pollution and the importance of preserving the natural balance of our ecosystem.

Nature is not just great to look at. Our health and wellness depend on it.

I hope that sharing this experience can help increase awareness and love for the beautiful, natural state of our amazing country.

WWF is also currently collaborating with UiTM Shah Alam, Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) and Hope for Malaysian Tigers (Rimau) in an initiative to save our Malaysian tigers. Their numbers are on a steady decline.

Visit wwf.org.my/tigerpledge to submit a pledge in making tigers a national priority. Every single one of us has the power to make a difference. You included.

A geoscientist by day and an aspiring writer by night, Amal Ghazali ponders on everything, from perplexing modern-day relationship dilemmas to the fascinating world of women’s health and well-being. All done, of course, while having a good laugh. Read more of her stories at bootsoverbooks.com.