Malaysia: With drying rivers, Sabah has just two months of water reserves

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 27 Feb 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Water reserves at Sabah’s major dams are at a comfortable 80 per cent – but with eight major rivers having plunged to their critical levels, and another nine to their alert levels, the state has only two months of water supply remaining.

State Water Department director Amarjit Singh said that overall water storage levels at major dams in Sandakan, Kudat, Penampang, Tamparuli, Semporna and Lahad Datu are relatively high – but with depleted rivers at critical levels amidst the ongoing heatwave, the dams’ water supplies are not being replenished.

Residents of several areas are already grappling with water shortages and dry faucets.

The problems faced by Papar, of one of the worst-affected areas, is compounded by a malfunctioning water treatment plant.

“Papar is facing a problem because one of its plants experienced sea water intrusion,” he said, adding that the district’s water supply is down by 10 million litres less, although the department has installed a weir at the Kopogon river to increase the water level.

In equally hard-hit Keningau, Amarjit said villagers still have access to an alternative water source; while in Bingkor, residents will be sent tankers to supply them with much-needed water.

As for water woes in Sipitang, the department will need a week to look into the cause of the problem and pore over a report from officers in the district.

“It is believed that the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway project in Sipitang has disrupted the water supply there,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amarjit assured Sabahans that the department will resort to cloud seeding should the dry spell persist into April.

Those who are affected and in need of water may contact the department’s careline at 088-326888.

Sabah feeling the dry spell, consumers told to conserve water
muguntan vanar The Star 27 Feb 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Water Department is sending out an alert to consumers to conserve water as the dry spell begins to kick in, with rains only expected from April.

The department’s director Amarjit Singh said that they would be all right for another two-months as there was sufficient water in the six dams around the state.

“We can cope for the next two months,” he said referring to the dams in Penampang, Sandakan, Semporna, Kudat, Tamparuli and Lahad Datu.

He said eight waters sources from rivers were at critical levels, while nine others were on alert level nine as they were showing signs of drying up.

Amarjit said the two other intake plants (in Papar) were also affected and water production had gone down by 10 million litres per day for consumers in Papar.

However, Amarjit said that there was no need for the public to panic. Nonetheless, he urged them to use water prudently particularly during the current dry spell.

He said measures like water rationing and cloud seeding would be taken in due course if the need arose.

Those who need water to be supplied can call the department’s careline at 088-326888.

SPAN ready for water emergencies
Nhemananthani sivanandam The Star 28 Feb 19;

PETALING JAYA: The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has contingency plans in place in the event the water at dams nationwide reach critical levels, says SPAN chairman Charles Santiago.

However, he gave the assurance that water levels at some 70 dams connected to treatment plants nationwide have recorded readings of between 95% and 100% at the moment.

“There is a very slight drop, maybe 5% on average. There is enough water to support the rivers just in case there is a massive drop in the river water.

“The critical point will start at between 30% and 40% onwards.

“But we want to address the problem now before we reach that critical point,” he said yesterday.

Santiago said SPAN will activate emergency plans when water levels drop to 50%, but he did not elaborate on the details.

He also said that the water supply from the dams should be able to last until the end of March, unless there are dramatic changes in the weather.

Santiago advised Malaysians to be prudent with their water usage during the current dry spell.

“I would advise people to go slow on washing cars.

“There are about 1.5 million vehicles in the Klang Valley alone, and if people wash their cars every day, then a lot of water is being used.

“So maybe reduce it to washing the car once in a fortnight,” he said.

He also advised consumers to harvest rainwater and use it for activities such as washing their cars and gardening.

Santiago said that SPAN would continue working with state governments to monitor water levels in rivers and dams that supply drinking water.