Malaysia: Penang sounds water supply warning as ‘Super El Nino’ hits country

OPALYN MOK Malay Mail 13 Jan 16;

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 13 ― Penang has activated its water supply alert status in preparation of drier and hotter days ahead as climatologists here warn of the “super El Nino” phenomenon.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the last time the state recorded rainfall in its two key dams in Air Itam and Teluk Bahang, was on December 29 last year.

“For now, the effective capacities of the Air Itam and Teluk Bahang dams are still healthy and we are continuing to draw water as normal from Sungai Muda,” he told a press conference today.

He said the Air Itam Dam's latest recorded capacity was 87.6 per cent while it was 83.2 per cent at the Teluk Bahang Dam.

“The water level at both dams will be able to sustain Penang usage until the end of March if there are no rainfall for these three months,” he said.

Penang has a larger dam ― the Mengkuang Dam on the mainland ― but it is currently not operating in full capacity as its expansion project is still in progress.

Jaseni said the water level at Sungai Muda is 2.53 metres today and that PBAPP is monitoring the dams and the river on a daily basis.

“We will brief the state government and inform the public on Penang's water supply status regularly,” he said.

Jaseni also warned that the state may experience a recurrence of the extended dry spell in 2014 where no rainfall was recorded for several months.

“If necessary, PBAPP is prepared to implement the water supply and water demand management initiatives to avoid water rationing like what we did in 2014 and 2015,” he said.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present at the press conference, said the water supply level in the state is under control for now.

However, he urged Penangites to try to save water in anticipation of the dry spell ahead.

Jaseni said the daily water consumption in Penang is about one billion litres and during dry spells, this typically increases by about 10 per cent.

He similarly urged Penangites to reduce their daily water consumption and reminded them of the water rationing exercises in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and even Taipin in 2014 and 2015.

“We are faced with a double threat of very little rainfall and daily temperatures soaring to 40 degrees so we can expect lower water levels at Sungai Muda and higher rates of evaporation at Penang's dams,” he said.

Penangites brace for El Nino heat
N. TRISHAandCAVINA LIM The Star 14 Jan 16;

PENANGITES have taken to various ways to beat the heat as temperatures soar in the state.

R. Priyah, 25, was seen trying to cool down with friends at the Penang City Park pool in the 35°C heat.

“This is the only place I could think of that allows me to cool off and take a swim for free. The weather has been unbearable lately.

“My family and I try not to go out during the day as we get tired faster than usual,” she said, adding that she uses some lotion to protect her skin if she had to go out during the day.

Coconut seller P. Rangan, who has a stall in Abu Siti Lane, has been doing brisk business with 30% increase in sales over the past week.

“The weather is getting hotter by the day and to cool down, especially in the afternoon, many people come to my stall for some coconut water.

“Sometimes within three hours, I can sell up to 300 coconuts,” he said when met yesterday.

The recent heatwave and dry spell experienced by the northern region has been forecasted to last until March this year.

The dam levels at Air Itam and Teluk Bahang are at 87.6% and 83.2% respectively but Penangites must still be very careful to save water.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said they were on the alert in view of the Meteorological Department’s warning of a possible hot and dry El Nino phenomenon.

“The last recorded rainfall at Penang’s key dams was on Dec 29 when we recorded 31.0mm of rain at the Air Itam Dam, 38mm at the Teluk Bahang Dam and 17mm at Mengkuang Dam.

“We have enough water in the dams to accommodate the dry season until March or April.

“We are monitoring the dams and Sungai Muda on a daily basis.

“We will brief the state government and inform the public on Penang’s water supply status regularly,” he told a press conference.

Jaseni urged Penangites to use water wisely and said they could call the PBAPP (04-5096509) any time of the day or night to report leaks at roadside mains or pipes.

“This weather pattern is due to global climate change.

“Penang always has dry weather from January to March but sometimes, the weather is drier than usual and this is one of the years.

“In 2014 and last year, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan and Johor had to implement water rationing.

“Even Taiping, the wettest town in Malaysia, experienced rationing and we do not want to have to take such a step,” he said.

Jaseni said the dams in the state were designed to store enough water for 100 days.

He added that currently, the daily consumption of water for the whole state was about one billion litres a day on average.

Sabah as well as Limbang and Miri in Sarawak are also expected to face dry spells.

Science, Technology and Innova-tion Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangau had said that the current weather is due to the El Nino phenomenon which will be felt throughout the first quarter of the year.

Madius added that the El Nino was expected to reduce the percentage of rain by 20% to 60% and increase the temperature by 0.5°F to 2°F.

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