Malaysia: Dry spell to last until end of March

New Straits Times 25 Feb 19;

THE sweltering heat that enveloped many parts of the country is expected to last until the end of next month.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department said the hot weather was a normal occurrence that marked the end of the monsoon sea son.

This will be accompanied by low rainfall, with temperatures expected to soar between 34°C and 36°C instead of the normal range of 32°C and 34°C.

Northern states, namely Perlis, Kedah and Perak, it added, had recorded temperatures as high as 37°C.

In Rantau Panjang, the hot weather that hit Kelantan in the last few days has caused the water level at the state’s biggest dam, Empangan Batu Kwong, to drop by 1.76m.

Kelantan Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) director Kamal Mustapha said the dam’s water level was recorded at 15m at 8pm on Saturday.

He said the situation, however, was under control as the critical level for the dam during dry spells was 12.20m.

“Although the dam’s water is used more for agricultural purposes compared with daily consumption, we will moni tor it.”

Kamal said the department was also monitoring water levels in rivers statewide, including Sungai Golok.

Checks by the New Straits Times at several areas along Sungai Golok showed that water levels had dropped significantly.

Villager Ishak Abdul Kadir said the dry spell, which occurred since Thursday, resulted in the river’s water level in Pengkalan Ibrahim to recede.

Another survey in Kampung Terusan, 15km from Pengkalan Ibrahim, showed that some parts of the river had dried up. Children were seen playing on the river ’s sand with their parents.

On Friday, Bernama reported that clean water supply in the state was expected to be affected if there was no rain in the next two weeks.

Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) executive director Ab Rashid Mohd Yusoff said several of the state’s water treatment plants, which used river water sources, showed drops in intake due to the hot weather.

On Friday, the water level at Sungai Kelar, Pasir Mas, showed a drop of about 0.2m, which affected the Kelar Water Treatment Plant.

Rashid said the same was observed in other water treatment

plants, including the ones in Remas and Kuala Tiga in Tanah Merah and Tualang in Kuala Krai.

In Hulu Terengganu, the water level at the Tasik Kenyir Dam was still above its lowest measurement despite the weather.

On Saturday, the dam’s water level was 140.99m, which is above its lowest level of 136m.

Tasik Kenyir is constantly fed by 14 rivers, and throughout the lake’s history since it opened in 1986, there has not been any incident of the water level falling below 136m.

In Ipoh, Perak Water Board general manager Datuk Mohd Yusof Mohd Isa said water levels at the Air Kuning Dam was at 45.2m, which is above its normal level of 42.1m. The water level at the Sultan Azlan Shah Dam was at 243.9m, which was its normal level.

The water level at Bukit Merah Dam in Semanggol was 9.08m, which was more than its normal level of 8.69m.

In George Town, heavy rain in the past few days had increased the water reserves of the Air Itam Dam.

Although the state water authority had sounded the alarm earlier this week, the situation improved following a 74mm rainfall, which increased the dam’s capacity from 66.2 per cent on Feb 20 to 67.3 per cent on Saturday.

Penang Water Supply Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa, however, reminded consumers to use water wisely during the dry season.

Meanwhile, National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chairman Charles Santiago said the commission would work with state governments to monitor water levels rivers and dams.

“SPAN would like to remind the public to use water moderately and avoid wasting it.”