What is EQMP?
Environmental monitoring is an essential element in the management of the environment. Quality-assured data from monitoring activities allow for the more sustainable planning of development projects, support the effectiveness of enforcement activities and ultimately, enhance the overall management of the nation’s living environment and natural resources. Environmental data that contributes to establishing the status of the environment also represents a useful tool in assessing the effectiveness and improvement of management strategies.
In Malaysia, the systematic monitoring of the nation’s air quality and water resources, including the marine environment has essentially been the responsibility of the Department of Environment (DoE) under the Ministry of Environment and Water, although several other government agencies also undertake some form of environmental monitoring as it pertains to its respective roles and responsibilities.
Monitoring activities as conducted by the DoE commenced shortly after the establishment of the department in 1975. The nation-wide monitoring program assessing air and river water quality was contracted out to the private sector in 1995.
The Environmental Quality Monitoring Program (EQMP) is a significantly-enhanced nation-wide network of environmental quality monitoring stations compared to the preceding monitoring program (1995- 2016). The EQMP, which encompasses an air quality monitoring network, a river water quality monitoring network and a marine water quality monitoring network, is ultimately aimed at the protection of human health, the nation’s water resources and its rich marine biodiversity and resources.
Specifically, the objectives of the EQMP are as follows:
- Provides the database that forms the basis of managing the environmental quality of the nation.
- Forms the basis for assessing effectiveness of management strategies and action plans.
- Performs as an early warning system related to specific sensitive receptor.
- Aids enforcement activities.
- Provides model inputs for predictive capability.
Hence, data generated by the EQMP allows for both macro, mid- and long-term action plans and management strategies to be formulated and assessed, but is also used for the day-to-day operations of the DoE. In aiding enforcement activities for example, the program provides the following functions:
- Alerts from the continuous monitoring network.
- Notification of Pollution Events & in situ data from manual monitoring network.
- Reports of exceedances from respective standards.
- EIA-related data.
- Investigative studies.
- Special Studies.
The EQMP data also comprises a major component of the yearly Environmental Quality Report which provides key data and information on the environmental quality status of the nation. In addition, the data is also used in international reporting, including the WHO Global Ambient Air Quality Database.