Malaysia: Seven dams nationwide at critical levels: Wan Junaidi

ESTHER LANDAU New Straits Times 4 May 16;

KUCHING: Seven dams nationwide have recorded critical readings with water levels below 50 per cent as of today, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said the water storage at several of the dams can only sustain supply up to a month.

The seven dams include Timah Tasoh dam in Perlis (27.6 per cent); Bukit Merah dam in Perak (20.2 per cent); Beris dam (25.9 per cent); Muda dam (30.45 per cent) and Padang Saga in Kedah (33.9 per cent); Labong dam in Johor (12.43 per cent); and Bukit Kwong in Kelantan (6.9 per cent).

He said the Bukit Merah dam has enough water for another 20 days; Timah Tasoh and Padang Saga up to a month; while Labong and Beris dams have up to three months supply.

"We urge the public to not waste water and use it when needed during this hot and dry season.

"The decreasing water level at the dams are not only affecting the domestic usage, but also the agricultural sector," said Wan Junaidi at the Sungai Buntal Coastal Erotion Control and Conservation programme in Kampung Buntal here today.

Among those present at the ceremony were Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahadzir Khalid and Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi.

7 dams in Malaysia less than half-filled with water: Ministry
The water in each dam may last from 20 days to three months without rainfall, says the country's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Channel NewsAsia 4 May 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven dams across Malaysia have water levels that are less than 50 per cent of their full capacity, following the heatwave and dry conditions that have hit the country, said its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) on Wednesday (May 4).

The Timah Tasoh Dam in Perlis, Bukit Merah Dam in Perak, Bukit Kwong Dam in Kelantan, Labong Dam in Johor and the Beris, Muda and Padang Saga Dams in Kedah were those listed in the ministry's news release.

The drying up of Bukit Merah Dam, has greatly impacted residents of the Kerian district - known as the "rice bowl" of Kedah. The dam, which is also known as Bukit Merah Lake, is the area's main water source for agricultural and domestic use.

As a result, the Perak state government decided to stop supplying water to rice fields to focus on domestic users. Even then, the water in the dam which is currently at 20.23 per cent of its full capacity, is only expected to last 20 days, according to the news release.

The water in Timah Tasoh and Padang Saga Dams may last up to a month, while that in the Beris and Labong Dams are expected to be able to provide water for up to three months before drying up.

There are 12 other dams across the country being run by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and these contain water ranging from 54.5 per cent (Pedu Dam in Kedah) and 79.76 per cent (Sembrong Dam in Johor) of their full capacity, said NRE.

While it did not announce measures in direct response to the dire water situation, NRE said it continues to work together with agencies such as the Department of Environment in preventing outdoor burnings that have the potential to worsen the situation, for example by causing haze.

- CNA/hs

Better weather over next few days
The Star 5 May 16;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians can expect better weather over the next few days.

The weather forecast until May 10 is expected to be “generally good” in most places in all states, except for rain in one or two places on the coastal area of Sarawak in the morning, said Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail.

“For afternoons and early evenings, rain and thunderstorms in one or two places are expected in the peninsula’s west coast, all areas in Sarawak, and the west coast and interior of Sabah.

“For late evenings, rain is expected in one or two places in the middle and interior of Sarawak only,” she said in a statement yesterday.

The department had earlier issued an advisory on the maximum temperature recorded between May 1 and May 3.

Batu Embun, Chuping, Kuala Krai, Temerloh and Mersing were the hottest places during the three days with temperatures recorded above 37°C.

The hot weather slowly cooled down after it rained on May 3.

On May 3, 24 main meteorolo­gical stations have recorded the highest amount of rain in Alor Setar with 44.0mm, followed by Sri Aman (36.8mm), Subang (35.2mm), La­­buan (32.0mm), Bayan Lepas (30.0mm), Batu Pahat (24.2mm), Keningau (21.4mm) and Mulu (20.0mm).

“Other stations recorded less than 20mm of rain. Only Kuala Krai meteorological station recorded a maximum temperature reading above 37°C, which was at 37.7°C.

“Other maximum temperature recorded at other stations are normal,” said Che Gayah.

Meanwhile in Kota Baru, a local company has taken up the role as a “rainmaker” and will spend some RM300,000 to conduct cloud seeding activities to induce rain.

AF Jets Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Amrul Nizar Anuar said such operations would be borne by the company as a contribution to the Kelantan people who were now facing hardship with rivers, lakes and wells fast drying up.

“We will conduct this exercise starting this Sunday and over the next 10 days

“As a local, I am obligated to give back to the people even though my base is in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Draw raw water from rivers, water authorities urged
SARBAN SINGH The Star 5 May 16;

SEREMBAN: Water authorities in all states should draw raw water from rivers instead of relying solely on the dams.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the water stored in dams should be used during a prolonged dry spell when the levels of rivers recede.

“We have managed to avoid water rationing in Negri Sembilan because almost all the raw water we need is drawn from rivers.

“Since we had enough water in our dams, we were able to release some to replenish supply in rivers, where most of our treatment plants are located,” he said, adding that only two water treatment plants in the state received raw water supply from dams.

Negri Sembilan has seven dams. They are Sg Terip, Kelinchi, Talang, Teriang, Sg Beringin, Ulu Sepri and Gemencheh.

Mohamad said he had proposed this mea­sure at last week’s National Natural Disaster Committee meeting and it was well accepted by representatives from other states.

“For the past two weeks, we have been releasing some 90mil litres of raw water daily from the Talang dam into Ulu Sg Muar, where we have five suction pumps supplying water to different plants.

“We were fortunate that we had sufficient water in our dams as we have been storing it for some time,” he said.

Mohamad has also proposed that states build bunded facilities to store rain water at downstream areas so that this could be pumped back into dams in times of need.

“Statistics show that we harvest less than 5% of the rain we get and one way to increase this is to build bunded facilities,” he said, adding that these could also be an effective flood mitigation option.

Mohamad said since Malaysia was blessed with a high rainfall, the authorities should find more ways to harvest rainwater.

“Since it’s been raining the past few days, I have already instructed the water authorities in Negri to pump more water into our dams.”

On Tuesday, the National Water Services Commission said it was monitoring dams in five states and some of which had fallen to critical levels. These dams were in Perak, Perlis, Pahang, Kedah and Johor.

Sunken vessel ‘rises’ as Sungai Pahang water level drops
The Star 4 May 16;

PEKAN: The dwindling water level of Sungai Pahang due to the dry weather brought on by the El Nino phenomenon has uncovered what is claimed to be a British merchant vessel that had sunk under mysterious circumstances 100 years ago.

Villagers of Kampung Tanjung in Paloh Hinai noticed the emergence of the vessel over the past month, said Kampung Paloh Hinau Development and Security Committee chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

"The story of the shipwreck is popular among the villages, having been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

"It is said that the vessel sank due to the arrogant attitude of the captain and after the 'spirits' were disburbed," he told reporters Wednesday.

Abdul Rashid said it was only recently that the villagers were approaching the vessel to take photographs as they had been frightened by the stories narrated over time.

The vessel had a funnel, anchor rope, propeller and engine combustion chamber characteristic of ships of the 1900s, he said.

Abdul Rashid said he hoped that the history of the vessel would be compiled if it actually was the British merchant vessel that sank 100 years ago. - Bernama