Malaysia: Water supply issues could remain critical until September

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 22 Apr 16;

TUARAN: Water supply issue could still be critical in certain areas in the country until September due to the coming southwest monsoon season.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said the El Nino phenomenon is expected to dissipate by June, but the new monsoon season which happens annually from May to September is known to be the dry season.

Speaking to reporters after a National Science Centre programme at Tamparuli here, he said areas known to suffer water level issues at catchments are the Telibong and Penampang districts in Sabah, while Perlis and Kedah in the Peninsular are the ones at critical level.

He said cloud seedling operations at selected places nationwide would be continued from time to time as long as there are no technical issues.

However, he said there is a low chance of success of in water catchment levels from the rain harvesting activities.

Penang Chief Minister calls for more drastic action to combat water crisis
Today Online 23 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) yesterday called on Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to hold an emergency National Water Resources Council (MSAN) meeting to help avert a looming water crisis in four northern Malaysian states due to the ongoing drought.

In a letter addressed to Mr Zahid, who chairs the council, Mr Lim suggested irrigation activities be halted to optimise dam water usage and to intensify cloud-seeding efforts in the northern peninsular region.

“As we know, the Super El Nino phenomenon has prolonged the dry season more than three months. Rain in the area for the month of April 2016 is much less than that recorded in 2015, whereby it has dropped by 70 per cent,” said Mr Lim in the letter. “Because of that, water storage of dams in the northern states is dropping fast and approaching critical levels.”

Malaysia, especially its northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, has been enveloped in a sweltering heatwave — affecting up to four million people — resulting in the temporary closure of schools, as well as slowing vegetable production, leading to price hikes.

Paddy fields, and durian and rubber plantations have also been affected by the severe temperatures, and water levels at dams and water treatment plants have been decreasing.

The drought has forced some states, such as Perlis and Johor, to impose water rationing, but Penang has yet to do so.

Mr Lim said yesterday that based on reports, the Muda and Beris dams, which supply water to both Kedah and Penang, can last only 30 days, while the Malaysian Meteorological Department predicted El Nino is going to last until June.

“Therefore, we call on your intervention, as the chairman of MSAN, to avoid a crisis from happening that will become a burden and an inconvenience to the people in their daily activities and businesses in the area,” he added, referring to Mr Zahid.

Penang State Health, Agriculture, Agro-based and Rural Development Committee chairman Afif Bahardin said the meteorological department had already started cloud-seeding operations in the northern region.

“Penang has even offered to fund the cloud seeding and for it (to) be done in Kedah because it’s the water basin of the north, but eventually the meteorological department did it with their own funding,” he said.

In Selangor, Chief Minister Azmin Ali assured residents yesterday that proactive measures were being taken to prevent water shortages, after a Member of Parliament warned on Tuesday that the Klang Valley — which includes Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the country’s administrative capital of Putrajaya and much of Selangor — could face a crisis in 43 days if the state’s water reserves drop below the critical level of 40 per cent.

Mr Azmin said the state is monitoring dam water levels and will increase the frequency of clouding-seeding exercises, if there is a need.

“We have taken some proactive measures with Horas (hybrid off-river augmentation system) and also cloud seeding, which we have embarked for the last few months,” he said, in reference to the storm-water harvesting system. “And if there is necessity to increase the number of flights for the cloud seeding, we will do so.”

He added that the matter was discussed during the state’s Economic Action Council meeting on Thursday.

“It was one of the issues that we deliberated, and we are monitoring closely all our dams and rivers in Selangor.” MALAY MAIL ONLINE

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