Erosion and Sediment Control
Soil is the biggest polluter of waterways not just in Malaysia, but all over the world. And earthworks from construction sites are the biggest sources of soil, with erosion rates reaching 10,000 times that of natural erosion rates (like in a forest for e.g.). All these years, massive erosion from poorly controlled construction sites have resulted in severe sedimentation of our urban rivers, wiping out river aquatic life and riverine ecology. Coastal areas are also badly affected as can be seen from the murky nature of our beach waters and the declining fish catches from our coastal waters (data from Jabatan Perikanan Malaysia about 10 years ago).
Definitely not. People who do not know, are of the perception that ESCPs are no different from the old ‘Earthworks Plan’ (Pelan Kerja Tanah). There is a very important difference: The old plans DO NOT show the locations of BMPs (Best Management Practices) that are absolutely required for the purpose of ESC. These BMPs need to be monitored, maintained and updated (i.e modified as necessary) to ensure that erosion and sedimentation is minimized throughout the site. Without them, the earth is simply washed away like what it was for the last fifty years.
When the Govt made it compulsory for all earthworks in construction sites to have an ESCP (Erosion and Sediment Control Plan) in 2005, engineers with PE were thought to be good enough to prepare these plans. Now we know, from the thousands of such plans submitted to the offices of DID District engineers, that the vast majority of such plans were completely useless for the purpose of ESC. It requires a trained person to prepare these plans and ordinary PEs just do not have the training. Certification ensures that the person has the required experience, knowledge and training. It also ensures that in case they abuse their registrations e.g. by allowing poorly prepared plans to have their certified signatures, they can be deregistered; similar to a PE. It does not mean that a new Registrant will produce perfect ESCP plans. The process is similar to PE registration. It will take some more time and more experience for them to be good professionals. But it does mean that the Registrant has been screened and has qualified to be registered professional in ESC, by passing the certification exam.
Every month each district of the DID receives up to 50 ESCPs, from big to small developments. It is simply not possible for the engineer to check through all of these plans, correct them (which presently will be needed for the majority of them) and liaise with the consultant to get it totally correct. We need a system like the present engineering design plans where a PE signs the plans and is totally responsible for them. There is no need for a Govt engineer to check through the design calculations etc. any serious error will be the responsibility of the PE who signed the plans. Similarly, if a CPESC were to design and sign for ESCPs, he will be responsible for the plans. Any errors, he will be held accountable and be responsible for damages. After all, he has been certified as competent to design such plans. That’s the way it works in the USA, Australia, Canada etc which has the CPESC set-up, and that is how they have managed to control earthworks.
Being certified by an international organization with more than 30 years of experience in implementing ESC, not just in the USA (where the problems of massive erosion from earthworks are not much different from ours) but also in Australia, Canada, Latin America and a few other countries, means that our certifications are credible. The whole exam and course material, including the guide books come from a tried and tested methodology. We are just not capable of replicating such a mechanism within a few years. In fact our whole new guidebook to give the Malaysianized parameters for erosion and sedimentation (erosivity, erosibility values etc) were derived from the American material. Ten years or more down the line, when we and our ESC are more established, then and only then, can we think about going our own way. In fact, the agreement already allows for this, and we are preparing the necessary groundwork.
Australia, Canada etc were early ‘regions’ of the old CPESC (now designated under the umbrella of EnviroCert Int. together with the other certifications like CESSWI, CPSWQ , CISEC). As explained in para 4 above, we absolutely need the whole mechanism of exam papers, course materials and organizational set-up in our early years, before we even think of going autonomous. It’s like Kentucky Fried Chicken, you sign for a franchise first to get the whole efficiently-arranged business, which has been fine-tuned for decades. You cannot get it for free just like that. And they were so generous to offer us such reduced rates as compared to other countries, while all these while helping us to get set up the last 10 years.
Those who are consultants, of course will benefit from the ruling by DOE that all ESCPs for EIA approvals will have to be signed by CPESCs and the new circular by JPS. For those who are not consultants, it is your duty to spread the knowledge and correct existing mistakes on the ground. Bring awareness on the heavy damage to our rivers and environment that are being perpetrated by uncontrolled earthworks. Cameron Highlands and Lojing are examples of how much damage can result from uncontrolled hill-cutting. The extreme sedimentation of the upper tributaries of Sg Kelantan is absolutely heart-breaking for anyone who has the slightest care for the environment. Things are much improved now – and MSO can certainly claim some credit for that. But there are huge new areas in the fragile highlands being earmarked for development eg. the hills in Perak, for similar highland agriculture. There is also the possibility that additional professional qualifications that help an engineer (for e.g.) to carry out his work better may be given incentive allowances by the Govt; something which will have to be taken up by the respective Govt agencies of course, for their staff. This is a national agenda; for the good of our future generations. Let us leave our mark by doing something good while we can. Go to the ECI website for further info on Prof Certifications and licensed engineers: http:// http://www.envirocertintl.org/
Malaysian Stormwater Organization (MSO)
You can get more info on the “History of MSO” on the website. This explains how MSO got started and how it came to be Region 11 of EnviroCert International (ECI). MSO is a Malaysian registered NGO founded for the purpose of spreading know-how and awareness in Urban Stormwater Management (USM or its more popular acronym MSMA) and Erosion And Sediment Control (ESC) in Malaysia. It manages the certifications of Certified Professionals by EnviroCert Int (ECI) and CISEC in stormwater management and ESC. Both parent organizations ECI and CISEC are based in the USA, and both offer international certifications (i.e. for any interested nationality). MSO manages all Malaysian registrants of both organizations, on their behalf e.g. collects yearly fees, disseminates news materials, liaise with Govt Depts on regulations, enforces code of ethics (this has yet to be strictly enforced) and conducts their exams in Malaysia.MSO is a non-profit organization and is run entirely by volunteers who are elected by members, similar to most NGOs.
All registrants (i.e. those who have passed the certification exams) from both orgs will have to join MSO, for the simple reason that both orgs do not have the capacity to manage registrants from Malaysia. It is much more practical for an org in Malaysia to do it. Similarly, for their registrants from other countries like Australia, Canada, and Latin America. They arrange for a local "chapter" which they call "Region" to be an affiliate . MSO is Region 11 of ECI. On the other hand, anyone with similar interests in stormwater management (e.g. dealers in commercial stromwater mgt products) can join MSO although they will not be managed as Registrants from ECI or CISEC. It can be beneficial for them in terms of contacts and product promotion.
Explained above. Remember that MSO does not exist because of its members and their need to be registered for them to practice as Inspectors or ESCP designers. MSO exists because of our need to manage erosion and sediment control in Malaysia - we will continue our agenda to spread erosion and sediment control competency and awareness, for the sake of the environment in the country. Certification of Registrants is just one of the primary strategies to achieve this.
If you are a Registrant who has passed an ECI or CISEC certification exam, and you insist on not joining MSO, then you will not be on the list of certified Registrants from Malaysia on both organizations. Then you will not be able to practice as an Inspector (CESSWI, CISEC) or Designer of ESCP (CPESC) in any country which requires that proof of certifications be presented before you can proceed with the job. The DOE of Malaysia already requires that such certifications (or equivalent ) be presented for any project involving EIA, back in 2012. JPS is also in the process of making such certifications mandatory before the end of 2017. JPS is also in the process of disseminating awareness and the strategies to cope with ESC in the countries of South East Asia. A consultant aiming at doing jobs in neighbouring countries will be well advised to be certified and regulated by MSO.
The DOE gave that special release clause “or equivalent” because they do not want to be accused of trying to favor one particular organization i.e. ECI. If it so happens that a professional can present a certification from Russia for example, which says that he/she is qualified to design ESCP plans, then all he needs to do is go to DOE with the certification to let them assess whether this is equivalent to a CPESC. Bring all the relevant documents of course. Already, CISEC (another organization in the USA) has been accepted as equivalent to CESSWI by the DOE, for Inspectors.
There certainly are other certification programs, but not in the ESC field. Certification of Electricians to do electrical wiring work in the house has been going on since the British days. For engineers nowadays, there are certification courses for “Road Safety Auditors” for example. MSO is not interested in making money out of this “monopoly”. We started out specifically to change policy on ESC on the Govt side, so that ESCP becomes mandatory for all new earthworks in the construction sector, one of the most damaging aspects of ESC. There is certainly a long way to go, since there are many other sectors which are also very damaging to our rivers and coasts: forestry (logging), mining, agriculture (esp in the highlands), highways and plantations. We are trying hard for these sectors to accept ESCP as a strategy to combat erosion and sediment. If there are any organizations willing to take over this voluntary role, we will be most happy to discuss with them. Forget it if you are looking at trying to make money out of it.