Malaysia: Hot weather takes its toll on Kelantan rivers

The Star 24 Apr 16;

GUA MUSANG: The hot weather over the past three months has taken its toll on most rivers in the state, including Sungai Ketil near here.

Sungai Ketil, a popular picnic spot, has become so shallow that stones which are normally hidden underwater is now showing.

Local resident Mazila Shariff, 36, said she had never seen the river this shallow before and was worried it would affect water supply to the district.

“This river is among the cleanest here. We depend on raw water from the river.

“It is also a favourite spot for us to cool ourselves in this hot weather,” she said yesterday.

Another regular visitor Mohd Firdaus Mohd Naim, 21, said the heat had reduced the number of visitors to the river.

“It used to be deep and the water was very clear. There were also many rapids that attracted people from far and near to come for a picnic,” he said.

He said he and his friends had been coming to the river almost daily to cool themselves in the past three months.

“The river is becoming shallower by the day. But the weather is so hot we are still taking dips in the shallow water,” he said.

In Ipoh, the water level at the Bukit Merah reservoir is at a critical level at 5m.

State Infrastructure, Public Utili­ties, Water and Energy Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paha­ru­din said 8.5mm rainfall was recorded at the Cerapan Kg Sempe­neh station on Friday night but it was not significant to improve the water level.

“Based on our standard operating procedure, we have started to reduce supply to irrigate padi fields, and if the situation does not improve, the supply may be stopped.

“However, for the time being, water supply for domestic use is not affected,” he said.

Pahang spends RM60,000 daily to pump water into treatment plants
The Star 23 Apr 16;

KUANTAN: The Pahang government spends RM60,000 a day to ensure a reliable supply of water at three water treatment plants at Lipis, Temerloh and Pekan following the drought brought on by the El Nino phenomenon.

State Secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail said for the past two weeks the government had to incur expenditure on pumping water from other areas to ensure the water treatment plants had sufficient water supply.

"Pengurusan Air Pahang Berhad (PAIP) had to fork out RM20,000 daily for each treatment plant to pump water from nearby rivers as the raw water intake is running dry," he said.

Two months ago, he said, the state government had applied for a RM27 million allocation from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) to carry out cloud seeding to increase water level at the Pahang River basin, but to date they have not received any reply.

Safian said although water levels at all dams were still normal, cloud seeding was crucial especially at Pahang River basin areas to ensure water was flowing to the intake.

Nevertheless, he added there were no plans for water rationing as the situation was still under control.

Meanwhile, Gambang Water Park management was prepared to shut down the water theme park operations temporarily should the state government issue a notice, in a bid to save water.

Bukit Gambang Resort City assistant manager, Paris Koh said so far they have not received any news on the matter adding that the management would consider other alternatives if the water situation worsened.

Koh added that despite the hot weather, there was no significant increase in number of visitors to the theme park between February and April this year, compared to the corresponding period last year. - Bernama

Cloud seeding successful in several areas
The Star 23 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The cloud seeding operations based at the Subang Airport and Penang will be continued as usual and has succeeded in producing rain in several areas.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said the areas were Timah Tasoh Dam (in Perlis), Ahning Pedu, Muda and Beris dams (in Kedah), Teluk Bahang dam in Penang, Bukit Merah dam and Air Kuning and the catchment areas of Bukit Larut, (Perak), the Sepri and Gemencheh dams in Negri Sembilan and Durian Tunggal dam in Malacca.

"Meanwhile, as for the target area over the Air Hitam Dam, Penang, cloud development has been observed after seeding," he said in a statement here Saturday.

He said the Kuala Krai Meteorological Station recorded a reading of 37.1 degrees Celsius at 4pm today.

He said till yesterday (Friday), three areas recorded more than 10 days without rainfall, namely Kota Baru and Machang in Kelantan (20 days) and Kudat, Sabah (12 days).

Meanwhile, Klang and Kuala Selangor, Selangor and Kota Tinggi, Johor recorded 10 days without rainfall. - Bernama

Rainy days help maintain Penang dams
BALVIN KAUR New Straits Times 23 Apr 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The few days of rain in Penang has helped maintain the water level in the state’s two functioning dams.

PBA Holdings Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the water level at the Air Itam dam and Teluk Bahang dam stands at 57.2 per cent and 58.7 per cent, respectively.

“The level is the same as what we had announced two days ago. “This shows that the input and output is the same.

“If we can maintain this input and output, we can last longer than predicted for the Super El Nino phenomena or June 2016,” he told reporters after the World Water Day 2016 celebration at the Air Itam Water dam here today.

Jaseni said he also urged the Federal government to continue implementing large-scale cloud seeding in the northern region.

Heatwave forcing people to change lifestyle
The Star 24 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: No place in the peninsula has been spared the soaring temperatures; everywhere, people are being forced to change their lifestyle to cope.

In Kuala Terengganu, students Navin Francis Thilagaratnam, Lid­­wina Teo and Nurul Ariesha Noore­zan are struggling to keep cool.

Navin said he really felt the brunt of the rising temperatures especially since it had not rained much for over two months there.

The 22-year-old student from Gong Badak said he missed his hometown which was cooler and breezier while Teo, 21, no longer finds it comfortable to stay in her room at her hostel.

“I have been going to the library more often for the air-conditioning there,” she said, adding that she found it more comfortable to complete her assignments there.

To keep cool, she has also been taking more showers.

Nurul Ariesha, 20, copes by applying more sunblock to protect her skin.

“This searing heat has not only given me headaches but caused discomfort to my skin,” she said.

Executive Irdina Syamimi Alias, 24, said Kuala Terengganu was so hot that she was having difficulty sleeping as she kept sweating

“I can’t sleep well. So nowadays, I try to wake up earlier to have a long shower,” she said.

Up north in Alor Setar, Muhammad Omar Husaimi, 42, said his children were no longer allowed to play outside.

“It’s too hot outside,” said the father of three who also makes sure his children drink enough water daily and take regular showers.

“I don’t want them to get heat rash because of this weather.”

Cheryl Anne, 38, is also complaining about the soaring temperatures around Ipoh.

“I make sure my children stay indoors as much as possible and stay hydrated at all times,” she said.

Malaysia warns of extended spell of hot, dry weather
Today Online 25 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian government has warned that the dry and hot spell could stretch to September, resulting in depleting water reserves, more forest fires and worsening haze.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau told TODAY that the hot weather would continue for the next five months due to the changing south-west monsoon winds. The monsoon season is between May and September.

“Now, we are experiencing the inter-monsoon season. Beginning from May right up until September, we will have the south-west monsoon.

“This will be a dry season,” the minister told TODAY in a brief phone call on Sunday evening (April 24), confirming a report in Malay Mail Online on Sunday in which Mr Madius had first made the warning.

Earlier, Malay Mail Online cited him as saying that the prolonged hot season will cause water reserves to diminish and increase forest fires.

“This will cause water reserves at dams to deplete. The winds from Sumatra will carry hot air and haze between May and September,” he was quoted as saying. “Cloud seeding activities will continue especially in Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Johor and Sabah.”

Six dams nationwide — Bukit Kwong (Kelantan), Beris (Kedah), Muda (Kedah), Padang Saga (Langkawi, Kedah), Timah Tasoh (Perlis) and Labong (Johor) — have recorded water levels below 50 per cent, according to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak have 25 more days to go before they run out of water reserves. Chuping in Perlis, having experienced chilly weather at 22°C in 2014, recorded 37°C on Saturday. More lakes and rivers, including the Bukit Merah lake in Kerian, Perak, and Sungai Pinang in George Town have almost completely dried up as the country faces its worst dry spell since 1998.

Last month, Mr Madius told Malaysian media that the heatwave was expected to last until June instead of April.

Various industries have expressed concern over the situation while farmers and fish breeders said they have recorded losses due to the heat.

Rice farmer Abdul Talib Taib, 64, of Kampung Padang Lalang in Jerlun, Kubang Pasu, said he had never felt heat as bad as this but he could withstand it, as long as he could still get water for his field. “Seeding should have started mid-March, and we are well into April, and May is coming. Still, we cannot plant. Of course, my income is affected,” said the man who has been planting rice for 45 years.

Banting Fire and Rescue Department chief Jaslizad Jalil said the hot weather has made it difficult for them to extinguish forest fires in Kuala Langat. He said there was lack of water in the area as Sungai Langat had dried up.

Air quality deteriorated as five areas in the Klang Valley recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index readings on while visibility levels in certain areas were reduced to 1.5km, said the Meteorological Department.

An environmental expert said the weather could hit 40°C if the heatwave continued. Universiti Malaya Geography Department climate expert Prof Azizan Abu Samah said although there will be some rain during this period, the rainfall will do little to increase water levels at dams nationwide.

“With dams reaching critical levels, we could see more water rationing exercises being carried out,” he said, adding that the annual padi harvest would be severely affected.

“Despite Mada (Muda Agriculture Development Authority) releasing water from irrigation dams for padi farmers to grow off season, we will still see lesser yield of crops,’’ he said.

According to Prof Azizan, the government had been warned about the weather pattern last year.

“I told the authorities about the long dry spell in June last year. However, the way we are reacting to the situation now shows the lack of comprehensive plan to tackle the issue.

“Any endeavour to absorb or dampen the effects of El Nino should have been done six months ago,’’ he said.

Prof Azizan suggested the authorities to look into alternative methods of extracting water. “It is still not too late. We should be looking at ground water extraction as an alternative source of water supply. The authorities should also look into treating alternative water source for domestic use instead of irrigation works.”

Prof Azizan said once El Nino is over, the country could also be facing flood problems.

“Predictions for La Nina, which would set in by September or October, are expected to bring above than average rainfall that would replenish water sources nationwide. However, if heavy rains continue for a long period, we could face major floods,” he said.

Malaysian news agency Bernama said that the water supply for domestic use was still enough for another month in the hot and dry water, citing Perlis drainage and irrigation department director Abdul Najib Abdullah.

In neighbouring Kedah, which is dubbed the rice bowl of Malaysia for its rice fields, many farmers are still waiting to start seeding their fields that had all dried up in the heat. AGENCIES

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