Malaysia: Selangor has enough water

VICTORIA BROWN The Star 30 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Selangor has enough water and can weather the current dry spell, said state executive councillor Elizabeth Wong (pic).

Wong, who is in charge of tourism, environment, green technology and consumer affairs, said Selangor’s dams are at a “comfortable” level.

According to the Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) website, the dams in Selangor are all above 55% capacity.

As of Wednesday morning, the Sungai Labu reservoir had the lowest volume, at 55.75% capacity, while Subang lake had the highest at 94.6% capacity.

Wong said Selangor learnt its lesson after the hot and dry weather in 2014 that led to water rationing in many parts of the state.

“We learnt a bitter lesson then, and since 2014, we have been looking at alternatives to ensure that it does not occur again,” said Wong.

She said Selangor has also been performing cloud-seeding operations “all year round” for the past two years.

“Usually, people only think about cloud seeding when it is dry, but when it is dry season there are no good clouds to seed,” said Wong.

She said cloud seeding is carried out in desirable wind conditions and cloud type.

“If those conditions are met, then there is a 60% to 70% chance of rain falling in the right place,” said Wong.

“Every time we see the right cloud, it doesn’t matter what time of the year, we seed that cloud and hopefully the rain will fall at the right place,” she said.

Wong said that Selangor needs to be prepared for “any eventuality”.

“We thought El Nino would come last year, but it didn’t, so we still continued our efforts and now it’s here, and we are in an okay situation.

“But we don’t know how long this El Nino will last. We are not sure what is going to happen, but at least we are prepared,” she said.

Wong also said that Selangor is currently building a Hybrid Off River Augmentation System (Horas) that can supply 350 million litres of water per day. Horas will be completed by 2017.

“Horas is additional water storage which is not in the (Sungai Selangor) river, but near the river,” said Wong.

Water quality specialist Dr Zaki Zainudin said Selangor seems to be in a "good position".

“As long as they are prepared from now to face any uncertainties it is a step in a right direction,” said Dr Zaki.

However, he said that with the lower rainfall during El Nino, it can lead to lower water levels in rivers which may lead to an increase in pollutants.

“Water treatment plants could be affected if pollutant levels are too high.

"Sungai Langat is more susceptible to this problem at the moment, based on its track record of previous closures and pollution sources upstream,” said Dr Zaki.

The closure of the Cheras Batu 11 and Bukit Tampoi treatment plants in the past were due to high ammonia levels in Sungai Langat, rendering the water unsuitable for consumption.

Dr Zaki said that although there are limits that dictate pollutant levels released into rivers, it does not take into account the quantity or load of the waste being discharged.

“There’s only so much pollution that our rivers can dilute,” he said.

However, Dr Zaki said that agencies are aware of the problem and are “taking steps in the right direction”.

Wong agreed that discharge and emission standards "can be improved”.

“We can’t have standards that probably worked 20 years ago,” she said.

Wong also said that there is an ongoing project to have an integrated sewage treatment plant.

“We are planning to pipe all the sewage into one integrated treatment plant. That is one solution, but it takes time,” said Wong.

However, Dr Zaki said treatment technology should be applied at pollution sources rather than treatment plants.

“If we use the technology at pollution sources, the water will be clear and we will have a good aquatic ecosystem. It is a more sustainable solution,” said Dr Zaki.

“If we invest in treatment technology at water treatment plants, does that mean that it is okay for rivers to be polluted?

“If you don’t control the pollution and allow it to continue, how long can that technology treat the water?

“We should instead invest money in tertiary level treatment; the water will be clean and can be discharged into the river to cause minimum impact on the environment,” he said.

Negri mulls construction of its eighth dam
The Star 31 Mar 16;

SEREMBAN: Negri Sembilan is considering building its eighth dam, in the Sg Jerang Valley in Jelebu, to meet the increasing demand for treated water.

Another option is for the state to buy raw water from Pahang, to be piped via a tunnel through the Titiwangsa mountain range.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said although the state has sufficient supply of treated water for the next 10 years, demand was expected to increase with new townships and industrial areas.

The state recently started mulling over the massive Malaysian Vision Valley (MVV) project which would be carried out over the next 30 years.

“We need to start planning from now because we can’t build a dam and water treatment facilities overnight. A feasibility study will be conducted in the next six months and we will decide on the better option,” he told reporters yesterday.

The state’s other dams are at Sg Terip, Kelinchi, Talang, Teriang, Sg Beringin, Ulu Sepri and Gemencheh.

The proposed 108,000ha MVV project would cover the Seremban-Nilai-Port Dickson area.

Mohamad said his administration hopes to provide an additional 500 million litres of water a day once the project was completed.

“If we decide not to build the dam, then we will have water chanelled from Pahang into our network of rivers.

“We will then build water treatment plants along the rivers,” he said adding that if the dam was built, it could mean that several villages would have to be submerged.

Mohamad said the state would discuss with the Federal Government and National Water Services Commission before making its decision.

In Petaling Jaya, Selangor Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs chairman Elizabeth Wong said the dams in the state were all above 50% capacity.

She said Selangor had learnt its lesson after the hot and dry weather in 2014 led to water rationing.

She said the state has been running cloud seeding operations “all year round” for the past two years.

Too costly to treat mining pool
RUBEN SARIO The Star 31 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A proposal to tap millions of litres of water from a disused mining pool at Mamut, near Mount Kinabalu, is not feasible.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah geologist Dr Felix Tongkul said the estimated 20.6 million litres of water at the disused copper mine open pit was acidic, and treating it for human consumption would be costly.

Although the water can be treated with limestone to neutralise the acidity, it will be too expensive to be practical, he told The Star.

He said the pH level of water in mining pits was about “3”, similar to some types of vinegar.

The pH is a scale showing the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid – “7” is neutral, the lower values are more acidic, and higher values more alkaline.

Felix said even if the acidity was neutralised, there would still be other minerals and heavy metals in the water.

Last week, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said authorities were looking at the possibility of treating water from the mining pit as one of the strategies to overcome water shortage in the area.

Pairin said the state Infrastructure Development ministry was looking at cloud seeding, which was expensive and unreliable, as well as desalination of plants.

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

In a related development, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili said the El Nino phenomenon has affected the water supply in several districts in Sabah, including Tawau and Lahad Datu.

He said water supply was still sufficient for the northern district of Kudat and the sub district of Matunggong, thanks to the Milau dam.

Due to the prolonged dry spell, the water level in Milau dam, which has a capacity of 55mld (millions litres daily), has dropped by 25% but it was still enough for now, he said.

Mada releases water for padi planting
G.C. TAN The Star 31 Mar 16;

ALOR SETAR: The Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) has started releasing water from three dams into padi fields under its jurisdiction for the first planting season this year.

Mada general manager Fouzi Ali said the Phase One release of water from yesterday from the Pedu, Ahning and Muda dams were for Mada’s Region I to Region IV covering 35,456 hectares of padi fields in various places in Perlis and Kedah and involving 16,724 farmers.

“This is to allow the farmers to carry out padi planting after a long period of dry and hot weather,” he told a group of journalists yesterday after bringing them to visit a padi field at Permatang Kaka in Megat Dewa, Kodiang near here.

He said among the areas receiving the water under the first phase were Arau, Kangar and Tambun Tualang in Perlis, and Kodiang, Sanglang, Tunjang and Pendang in Kedah.

“The last day for seeding for this phase is May 4 and last day of water supply is July 26,” Fouzi added.

He said the release of water under Phase Two for 43,321ha and Phase Three for 21,908ha would start on April 9 and 19 respectively.

The last days for seeding is May 14 and 24 while the last days of water supply is Aug 5 and 15 for the two phases, he said.

Fouzi said the storage in the Pedu, Ahning and Muda dams were sufficient to supply water for all three phases covering 100,685ha of padi fields with 55,130 farmers.

Permatang Kaka farmer Jaafar Ahmad, 62, said he felt relieved after Mada released water to the padi fields.

“It had been a long wait since the dry season began and now the padi planting activities can be carried out as usual by all the padi farmers in the area,” said Jaafar who is the supervisor of A-II Kodiang Area Farmers Organisation.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah has urged all mosques in the state to hold sunat Istiqa prayers for rain.

Ahmad Bashah was among about 1,500 Muslims who took part in such a prayer at the Masjid Zahir grounds here yesterday.