Malaysia: Water situation critical in Sabah

RUBEN SARIO The Star 25 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s water supply will reach critical levels if an El Nino induced drought stretches beyond July, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Pairin said water resources at most districts were sufficient for another three months.

“Taps are running dry at dozens of villages dependent on gravity feed system from springs or streams that have dried up.

“We are getting them help,” he said.

Pairin, the state Infrastructure Development Minister, said the Water Department was now deploying its tankers as well as privately owned ones, to send water to villages.

Among the worst hit were the communities at the nation’s northernmost Banggi island off Kudat and Sebatik island in the east coast.

Pairin said the department was prepared to send water by barge to both islands if necessary.

Other districts hit by the drought where water needed to be sent in by trucks include Pitas in the north and Kuala Penyu in the west coast, he said after visiting the Kasigui water intake point at Penampang near here.

He said his ministry was looking at other measures to overcome the water shortage, including cloud seeding, which was expensive and unreliable as well.

He said other options being considered include using desalination plants.

The state government was also looking at whether the contaminated water at the massive Mamut copper mine open pit could be treated and used.

“There’s about 20.6mil cubic metres of water in that pit. That’s a lot of water.

“Now, if we can only find a way to treat that acidic water,” he said.

Over the long term, he said the construction of a RM400mil water supply dam would begin in the east coast Tawau district later this year.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said separately that the Sabah Cabinet had discussed the state’s preparedness for a water supply emergency if the drought persisted.

The chief minister has directed State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman to activate the disaster relief committees at the districts to quickly respond to any situation, he said after opening a fisheries conference here.

Kota Kinabalu water crisis averted
The Star 24 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: People living in the city and neighbouring Penampang and Putatan need not worry about water rationing, at least until May.

Water Department deputy director Teo Chee Kong said that though the Kasigui intake plant, which supplies water to the three areas, is at 25 milion litres per day (mld), which is slightly less than half its maximum supply capacity of 55mld, they have brought in another 25mld from the Madsiang intake.

He said the Madsiang intake, which normally supplies water to the Moyog area, will contribute 25mld and be complemented with 150mld from the Babagon dam.

“Therefore, the amount of water for Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan is at 225mld,” he said during an inspection of the Kasigui water intake plant on the Moyog River near here on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Teo said the water shortage which occurred over the past few days was because of pollution and not insufficient supply.

“There were high levels of ammonia present in the Moyog River and our plant could not filter the pollution,” he said.

“The maximum level of ammonia which the intake plant can treat is 0.5mg per litre. However, the level of ammonia in the Moyog River exceeded that level, which is why the Kasigui intake had to be shut down,” he said.

Teo said the Water Department and other agencies have taken measures to reduce the pollutant level in the river to normalise water supply and conserve water in the Babagon dam as a measure against drought.

Penampang District Officer Luvita Koisun, who was also present at the inspection, hoped that the weather will improve.

“The dry season has caused several gravity water feeds in some villages to dry up,” she said, adding that a disaster operations room has been set up to ensure the supply of clean water to the affected villages.

The villages affected are Kampung Babagon, Kampung Timpangoh Laut, Kampung Kolopis, Kampung Kibabaig and Kampung Minintod.

“We are using tankers to supply water to these villages," she said, adding that the Civil Defence Department and the Water Department are assisting in the relief efforts.

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