Malaysia: TNB prepares for monsoon; keeping eye on Sultan Mahmud dam's water level

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 5 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is keeping a close watch on the water level at the Sultan Mahmud hydroelectric dam, in view of an impending monsoon set to lash the east coast states of Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang.

The Meteorogical Department had recently issued a public warning of torrential rain, strong winds and adverse weather beginning tomorrow (Oct 6).

The department said the weather was the first phase of the monsoon season that will last till early next month.

A TNB spokesperson said the current water level at the dam stood at 138.7 metres.

“This is a normal level with adequate reservoir capacity to contain the expected monsoon rainfalls, upstream.

“The dam’s maximum safe level is 145 metres,” said the utility corporation representative.

The spokesperson added that for the past eight months, TNB has taken proactive measures to reduce the water level in preparation of the upcoming monsoon season.

“To date, the Meteorological Department has forecast the upcoming monsoon to be in the ‘normal monsoon’ category.

“Nevertheless, we have our technical crew keeping a close watch for any untoward incidents,” she said.

Residents of the three states have repeatedly expressed concern of sudden overflow from the dam which had resulted in flash floods the past few years.

However, TNB and several other government agencies have blamed illegal logging in the Main Range of the peninsula as one of the chief reasons for uncontrolled flooding of low lands surrounding Tasik Kenyir.

A Forestry Department official said illegal and unscrupulous rapid deforestation had resulted in mass rapid, surface rain-water flow which exceeded the drainage capacity at catchment areas, lakes and the South China Sea.

“This resulted in large amount of water overflowing into low-lying areas, causing flash floods,” he said.

Deforestation has been blamed for the massive flooding of Manik Urai, Kuala Krai and Kota Baru in Kelantan, as well as Kemaman in Terengganu two years ago.

Meanwhile, Terengganu state secretary Datuk Wan Nawawi Wan Ismail said several mitigation initiatives, including the recent installation of the RM550 million National Flood Forecasting and Warning System, have helped minimise loss of lives and property.

He said the system had been set up at four locations, namely Stewong Jatuh in Hulu Setiu, Peng Gawai in Hulu Terengganu, Kenyir Dam in Hulu Terengganu and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu in Gong Badak here.

It is learnt that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has set aside RM30.6 million for the system to be established in Terengganu and neighbouring Kelantan.

“A total of RM5.7 million has been channelled to Terengganu so far, with more funds to be allocated in the project's next phase.

“Phase One of the project was developed over two years following the north-east monsoon floods that inundated several states between Dec 14, 2014 and Jan 10, 2015,” he said.

The major floods that year, described as the worst in decades, had caused extensive loss of property in Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. More than 200,000 people were affected while 21 were killed.

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