http://want2green.com/2010/03/12/magical-mud-balls/Magical Mud Balls
Oh okay, so they aren’t magical. But they could very well be, considering what
If you haven’t heard about these EM Mud Balls yet, here’s a bit of what they are
and how they function:
EM stands for ‘Effective Microorganisms’, which was developed by Japanese horticulturist
Teruo Higa. As he states on his website, the EM•1® is a liquid he created contains many
co-existing microorganisms which can positively influence the medium it is placed in.
In any environment, living beings or microorganisms live in a balance, and depending on the type of microorganism, some will excrete substances in order to make a more favorable environment for them to live in.
In bad environments, though, what should be done to produce a breakthrough? In cases like this it is critical to transform the microflora. Increasing the number of beneficial microorganisms, such as those present in EM•1®, will change the environment.
In less jargoney terms, EM basically cleans and transforms the muck you get in rivers and other
sanitary-challenged areas. They have been used successfully in Japan, and famously
played a huge part in the revival of the country’s Seto Inland Sea.
And now we’re going to unleash them mud balls in our national zoo.
From The Star (March 8, 2010):
KUALA LUMPUR: Mudballs made of live micro-organisms will be released at the Zoo Negara lake to purify its water and restore aquatic life.
The 40,000 Effective Micro-organism (EM) mudballs will be released on March 22 in conjunction with World Water Day.
Yesterday, more than 250 Standard Chartered staff members and 20 visually-impaired people from the Malaysian Association for the Blind started making 14,000 mudballs, to add to the 26,000 that were made in December.Release the mudballs: (From left) Malaysian Celebrities Go Green co-founder Baki Zainal, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia chief information officer and Scope International Malaysia head Arif Siddiqui, Kurup and Zoo Negara Malaysia president and chairman Datuk Ismail Hutson officiating the lake restoration project at Zoo Negara, Kuala Lumpur, Saturday.
Khairulnizam Abdul Rahman, a visually-impaired individual, said he felt good because he was able to contribute to the environment.
“This is my first time making such mudballs. And I am also having fun because I get to make new friends,” said the 24-year-old.
The event kickstarted the Zoo Negara lake restoration project, which is a joint effort by the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia, the Natural Resources and Environ ment Ministry, Standard Chartered, Zoo Negara and Bioremeds, which provided the technological expertise for the EM mudballs.
Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, in his speech when launching the project, said he was confident that the collaboration between the Govern ment and private sectors and civil society would spark new thoughts on water conservation techniques and yield success.
The EM technology was developed by Japan ese horticulturist Dr Teruo Higo.
EM is the natural occurring of live micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeasts, which are used to improve the quality of water, solve sanitary problems and improving the environment.
Malaysia isn’t exactly new to EM Mud Balls. We’ve been using them for about a year or so
now, and mostly in Penang’s rivers and beach fronts. Hey, apparently we (well, the
The Drainage and Irrigation Dept, that is) even dumped RM100,000 worth of EM mud
balls into Petaling Jaya’s Taman Aman Lake in 2006.
THE SOLUTION = BALLS?
They sound great, but be warned, says water experts like Prof Zaini Ujang.
EM Mud Balls aren’t exactly the cure-all to water pollution. As he told The Star
last year :
The efficacy of EM mudballs will not last – not when pollutants continue pouring into rivers.
So while EM can work wonders, many question its long-term viability – particularly in Malaysia where rivers are still a toxic brew of rubbish, sewage, industrial effluent, eroded soils, chemical-laced runoffs from farms, untreated grey water (from kitchens and bathrooms), stormwater and nasty runoffs from wet markets, pasar malam sites, eateries, car washes and car workshops.
“What happens once we stop dumping the mudballs? It is a costly exercise which does not create a sustainable solution. I do not recommend it,” says Datuk Dr Zaini Ujang, professor in environmental engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
“This is not the way to solve environmental problems. We’re allowing the river to be polluted, then treat it. The principle of any river rehabilitation is to identify the sources of pollution, then treat the pollution … not treat the pollution after it has gone into the river.”
That article also points out or raises the questions of:
- What happens to the inorganic components discharged by all kinds of industries?
- Because the mud balls must be applied in large numbers, this may prove costly. Johor had spent RM1.5mil on EM in the last two years, and will spend another RM1.5mil this year, the article reported.
- Wouldn’t it be better to spread awareness for communities to use EM at home? “They should stop dumping kitchen waste but compost it using EM, then pour the liquid that is produced into drains and rivers,” says Abdullah Ismail, director of Jamof, the licensed retailer of EM in Malaysia. He says this EM-enriched solution will help keep drains, sewers and streams clean.
IS IT REALLY WORKING?
Do we have clear research and results as to how the EM mud balls used in the past have fared
in this country? Or are we just throwing and throwing them in, thinking they are working
and that’s all that matters? And what about community habits, the worst enemy for
our nation’s rivers and beaches – shouldn’t that be the emphasis?
That said though, I would love to see the EM mud balls in action myself.
God knows we have enough waterways that need help in Klang Valley.