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Tossing mud balls for clean water environ
Published on: Sunday, April 04, 2010
By: Avila Geraldine Samuel
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SHANGRI-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa (STAR) guests can now get a hands-on experience tossing mud balls in the effort to help create a clean water environment.Being the first resort in Sabah to adopt and utilise the Effective-Microorganism (EM) mud balls, the project is implemented as part of the resort's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and environmental initiatives to clean up bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, drains, etc where there are concentrated deposits of sludge and slime.

Its communication director, Tulip Noorazyze, said STAR adopted the mud balls method after knowing about its benefits from their sister property in Penang.

"As far as I know, we are the first in Sabah to do the mud ball programme and we have brought the concept to some of the schools in Kota Kinabalu.

"We approached Mesra Alam International Sdn Bhd, an environmental company who have been working closely with us in Sabah to assist in the demonstration and getting the ingredients for making the mud balls.

"The Penang Council also implemented this mud ball concept by throwing thousands of mud balls at the Gurney Drive waterfront," she said, recently.

It is said that tossing mud balls will help keep drains, sewers, and streams clean as they have been enriched with EM, a consortium of good microbes that can degrade pollutants that continue pouring into rivers.

In Penang, Sungai Pinang and Sungai Mas are said to be less murky and smelly after thousands of mud balls were thrown in.

In Sungai Kelian in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, the transformation appears almost miraculous; after three months of mud ball treatment between March and June at the estuary, the metre-thick black sludge that smothered the riverbed has disappeared, leaving behind a sandy bottom.

How does EM mud balls work? The mud balls are made with a mixture of clay, bokashi - Japanese for "shading off, gradation" (rice bran fermented with EM and molasses) and EM that is mixed together and allowed to ferment.

"As a result the mud balls are enriched with EM and when applied to rivers or lakes will slowly break down, allowing EM to escape into the water.

"EM bokashi mud balls inhibit the growth of algae, and break down any sludge and silt in the water, resulting in clear and healthy water," explained Tulip.

In August last year, STAR tossed around 50 EM bokashi balls into the Tanjung Aru drains that lead to the ocean.

"Led by the resort's general manager, Andrew Steele, the mud balls were thrown into two drains at Zero Beach and close to the hawker stalls near first Beach in Tanjung Aru.

"As the mud ball can last only a week after fermentation, we have been making only small quantities of between 50 and 100 mud balls each time for the drains outside our resort. However we plan to do more mud balls with the schools," said Tulip.

She said mud ball project is only one of the programmes and STAR has a lot more initiatives from school adoption to water village adoption, adoption of underprivileged children and so forth.

The mud balls project is specially organised weekly for hotel guests and their children.

"The resort plans to continue this activity once a fortnight and guests at the resort would be invited to participate.


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