Tasek Varsiti is a man-made lake built even before University of Malaya began. Geographically, the lake had been through many changes and was once compared to the Lake Gardens (now known as Perdana Botanical Garden). Not many people know that the lake was almost twice its size today and was once connected to Sungai Pantai. In its glory days, the lake was the centre for various students’ and staffs’ activities from Water Carnival event during orientation (such as duck-catching competition, pillow fight sports activity and boat race) and convocation week festival to a community gotong-royong to deepen the lake. In the past, after taking an oath of loyalty and service to the college, each newly elected residential college’s committee member was ‘ducked’ in Tasek Varsiti in a ‘baptism’ ceremony and it was all done for the fun of it. Former University of Malaya Vice Chancellor have taken high interest involvement in the well-being of the lake. Royal Professor Ungku Aziz for instance, had initiated research works done on the lake, and the late Tan Sri Abdullah Sanusi had contributed in beautifying the lake’s landscapes. The lake has in the past inspired many undergrads into writing captivating lines in praise of it and will continue to do so for as long as it is treated as the heart of UM.
In 2014, the lake has brought together the University of Malaya community from various background and disciplines into Project ReviVaL (Revive Varsity Lake). The project was led by the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Development with the help from Department Development and Estate Management (JPPHB), Sports Centre, Faculties of Science and Engineering, Water Warriors and various individuals and student volunteers. The project has a three stages plan: research, fixing and re-introducing life; ensuring a holistic approach to lake rehabilitation. After a carefully detailed plan work on rechanneling point source pollution drainage, dredging to deepen the lake, installation of rip rap to overcome surface run off and a construction of a mini wetland to act as a natural filter, the lake is now alive again, with cute ducks and geese introduced into the lake and numerous local fish species. In the future, the lake will act as the hub for limnology research in the university with its potential in freshwater ecology and biology study. Various activities can be held at the lake such as kayaking, flying fox, tree walk and birdwatching.
Water Warriors is an environmental project in the campus for the protection and conservation of water bodies in University of Malaya. The project started off as an outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the campus by engaging the community to conduct basic monitoring, a termed known as ‘citizen science’. In the spirit of community aimed towards bringing back the sense of ownership, the programme is not only focusing on monitoring, but also involvement in ‘gotong-royong’ and public reporting on water leakages in campus. Water Warriors are also deeply passionate about documenting flora and fauna, especially fresh water habitat such as aquatic insects, waterfowl and wetland plants.