Project Title: The Use of MSMA for Integrated Urban Drainage Management: Case Study in Ipoh and Melaka

Funder: Short Term Grant


Duration: 15th November 2007 - 14th November 2009



Researchers   :

                          Dr Lai Sai Hin <>

                          Dr Md Hazi Azamathulla

                          Zorkeflee Abu Hasan




The traditional approach in stormwater management shifted during the 1970s to a storage approach with a focus on detention, retention and recharge. Later on, during the 1980s and 1990s stormwater came to be considered as a significant source of pollution, and the main goal of stormwater management shifted to protection of the natural water cycle and ecological system by the introduction of local source control, flow attenuation and treatment in natural or mostly constructed biological systems, such as ponds, wetlands and treatment facilities. It is generally accepted that stormwater should be attenuated locally.


These comprehensive Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater management are becoming very popular topics for development of urban drainage in developed countries. Stormwater BMPs are widely used in drainage planning in the United Kingdom [5], United States [8], Germany [7], Australia [4], and Japan [3]. BMPs can be defined as a multi-disciplinary approach in applying appropriate technology to preserve the natural environment, enhance living standards and improving the quality of life.


The implementation of integrated measures of Stormwater BMPs in Malaysia is still in an early stage. Conventional stormwater drainage systems, consisting of a concrete drainage system had been widely practiced in Malaysia, but unfortunately this practice has a significant impact on the environment as a whole. The conventional drainage system has not been proven to solve the existing flood problem in Malaysia. It can be clearly seen from the annual budget spent by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Malaysia that flood mitigation cost have increased every year. Therefore there is a need to seek a holistic and sustainable solution, not only to mitigate existing flood problems but also to prevent the occurrence of such problems in new area to be developed [2].


In order to solve the current problem DID is embarking on a new approach of managing stormwater runoff called "control at source". Sustainable urban drainage is a concept that includes long-term environmental and social factors in the planning and design of drainage systems. This approach takes into account the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff, and the amenity value of surface water in the urban environment. The Department of Irrigation and Drainage is producing a new urban drainage manual, known as Manual Saliran Mesra Alam or MSMA, which has been effectively used since 1st January 2001. Thereafter, approval for all federal, state and private development will depend on compliance with new guidelines. These new guidelines require the developers to apply BMPs to control stormwater quantity and quality to achieve Zero Development Impact Contribution. 


Realizing that the new stormwater BMPs approach should be introduced in Malaysia, the University Science Malaysia, in collaboration with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia, have constructed the Bio-Ecological Drainage Systems (BIOECODS) at the Engineering Campus [1, 2, 9], in Nibong Tebal, Penang. It is hoped that this BIOECODS will be an example of BMP in stormwater management, mainly in Malaysia and the general South Asia Region. BIOECODS represents an alternative to the traditional hard engineering-based drainage system with the application of swales, subsurface modules, dry ponds, wet pond, detention pond, and constructed wetland. The construction of BIOECODS covers an area of 300 acres and was completed in December 2002. His Excellency the Governor of Penang launched BIOECODS at the national level on 4th February 2003.


In conjunction with the effort of University Science Malaysia to promote the BMP in stormwater management, this study which emphasized on both the modeling simulation and practical effectiveness is expected to be able to further promote the use of MSMA concepts for Urban Stormwater Management, particularly for flood control and water quality improvement.  Therefore, two on going urban stormwater management projects have been selected to study the use of the Manual Saliran Mesra Alam (MSMA) concepts for Urban Stormwater management.  These projects are: (1) Rekabentuk Terperinci Sistem Saliran Maktab Perguruan Perempuan Melayu Melaka - Taman Peringgit Jaya by The Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID), Malaysia and (2) Rehabilitation of Ex-Mining Pond and Existing Wetland for Integrated Stormwater Facilities, Ipoh by DID, Malaysia.



 This study aims in exploring the potential of MSMA concepts for Urban Stormwater Management, through field study and hydrologic modeling (InfoWorks  CS).  The detailed objectives of this study include: 

1.   To evaluate the effectiveness of traditional drainage system in carrying urban stormwater.

2.   To evaluate the best management or control at sources practices (BMP) proposed by MSMA in urban stormwater management and flood prevention in terms of quantity and quality.

3.     To promote the use of cost effective, environmental friendly methods and products for sustainable urban stormwater management and flood prevention.



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  • Ab. Ghani, A., Zakaria, N.A.,Abustan, I.,Mohd. Sidek, L., Abdullah, R. and Adlan, .N. (2000). New Ecological Drainage System - A New Approach to Reduce Flash Flood in Cities. World Water Day Seminar, Penang, 2122 March.

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  • Zakaria, N.A., Ab. Ghani A., Abdullah, R., Mohd Sidek, L. & Ainan, A. (2003). Bio-Ecological Drainage System (BIOECODS) for Water Quantity and Quality Control, International of River Basin Management, IAHR, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 237-251.