CSI Community Stream Investigation 2017- Rivers never lie

by Cheam May Choo

Rivers never lie– Rivers are akin to our arteries and veins and the water that courses through them are akin to the blood that flows in us. The healthier the water the healthier the environment, the healthier our blood the healthier us. The rivers will tell us how they are faring -from their appearance, their colour, their smell and the creatures that live within them. They don’t lie. And this forms the basis of our CSI (community stream investigation) programme.

CSI remains a popular environmental education activity for us since it was first developed by Dr Liau Tai Leong, our vice president in 2009. We had wanted to come up with an activity that was both interesting and relevant to the locals and visitors alike. He used information he had gleaned from observing our very talented and industrious Dutch volunteers Antony van der Ent and Chantal while they were doing research for their thesis and incorporated it into a simple yet ‘hands-on’ programme. Over the years it was modified to suit the local condtions and a booklet detailing this was eventually published.

CSI programme was initially sponsored by CIMB (in 2009) and the excess funds were carried over to the next few years. In 2015 Prince Tunku Imran and Mr Paul Chuah gave us more funds and in March this year we received a small grant from the National River Care Fund under GEC (Global Environment Centre). This allowed us to continue and CSI has become an annual affair for our local schools.

The presence of bugs (in this case macroinvertebrates) is used to gauge the quality of the waters in our streams and rivers. Some of these bugs are so delicate eg stonefly larvae, dragonfly larvae, water pennies, that their mere presence indicate that the river water quality is and has been very clean and unpolluted. In contrast the mosquito larvae and the leeches can survive in contaminated waters. This water testing method comes at no economic cost and is in ‘real time.’ The children love this because they can frolic in the stream and ‘catch bugs’!

Normally at the start of each programme, Dr Liau or any of his trained volunteer will give a briefing on what this activity is about.

He will then explain the physical,chemical and biological ways to assess the water. Pictures of the bugs are given to aid identification.

The participants then adjourned to the rivers and results from a clean river Sg Pauh are compared to that of a dirty river Sg Bertam. Chemical testing  Biological testing (dirty river).                                                                                                                                                  

After completing the analysis, partcipants will present their findings and Dr Liau will discuss the findings with them. Importance of looking after the rivers is stressed for failure to do so will result in short and long term adverse effects.

There will be the usual photo taking at the end of each session. 

For 2017, we conducted 8 CSI programmes and they are

Date                            School                         Participants

6th July 2017               SJKC Brinchang         14 students and 2 teachers

13th July 2017             SJKT Kuala Terla       25 students and 2 teachers

24th August 2017         SJKC Tringkap            18 students and 2 teachers

20th September 2017   SJKC Kea farm           31 students and 9 teachers

25th September 2017   SMK Kg Raja             30 students and 2 teachers

26th September 2017   SK Convent                36 students and 2 teachers

28th September 2017   SK Ringlet                  !8 students and 2 teachers

11th October 2017       SJKC Bertam Valley  23 students 2 teachers and 7 parent

The volunteers who assisted for CSI programmes this year include Tom Brugeire, Aurelien Boulet,Pablo Rabouin, Adam and Syuib Zainuddin, Geogina Khong and Chloe Chong Ka Wai.

On the days when Dr Liau could not get any volunteers, the school teachers who by now were fairly well versed in the programme assisted. We are also delighted that more parents have joined in, for they know that contaminated rivers in Cameron Highlands are for real.

Below are some pictures of the CSI programme for the different schools this year

SJKC Tringkap 24th August 2017 : Geogina hard at work with a rapt audience

Investigating the clean river-Sg Pauh

Bugs they found

SJKC Kea Farm-20th September 2017

Dr Liau holding court  

Students trooping to the dirty river in single file

Investigating the dirty river-Sungai Bertam

Discussing their findings with heahmistress Madam Lee Yoke Yoong

What they found


Happy faces

SMK Kg Raja25th September 2017

Briefing by Dr Liau

Investigating the dirty river  

Rhododendrons found by the riverside

Investigating the clean river   

Macroinvertebrates found


SK Convent-26th September 2017


Invesitgating the dirty river

Selfie time! 

What bugs did I catch?     

Tea break       

Presentation Group photo

SK Ringlet-28th September 2017

Briefing by Dr Liau

All ready to go  

Investigating the dirty river   Discussion on findings 

Investigating the clean river

Tea break Presentation and discussion of findings  

Group photo

SJKC Bertam Valley11th October 2017

Briefing by Dr Liau to students,teachers and parents

To the dirty river   Clean river  

Parent joining in the fun of catching bugs!

Parents enjoying the discussion by Dr Liau

Group photo

Many thanks to everyone for making this CSI programme a success.

Many thanks to Dr Liau, without whom the CSI programme would not have taken off.