PENANG, Friday, 14.2.2020 – The capacity of the 160 billion litre Muda Dam in Kedah was reported to be only 7.44% on 13.2.2020. It can no longer support the Sungai Muda river level during this dry season.
As such, the river level of Sungai Muda is highly dependent on only one other dam in Kedah, the 120 billion litre Beris Dam. The capacity of this dam was reported to be 69.87% on 6.2.2020. PBAPP has not been able to obtain more recent readings for the Beris Dam. To sustain the Sungai Muda river level, the Beris Dam is releasing about 864 million litres of water per day (MLD).
On 13.2.2020, the Sungai Muda river level at Penang’s Lahar Tiang Intake was at the alert level of 1.77m. The normal river level is above 2.0m. As of today, PBAPP is still able to optimise abstraction of raw water from Sungai Muda for treatment at the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant (Sungai Dua WTP). The Sungai Dua WTP produces more than 80% of the treated water that is supplied in the State of Penang.
Intensify Cloud Seeding
In this present scenario, cloud seeding to induce rain in the catchment areas of the Beris Dam and Muda Dam, as well as the Sungai Muda river basin must be prioritised and expedited by the relevant authorities and agencies. It is critical to ensure that the raw water reserves of the Beris Dam lasts until the rainy season arrives.
If the Beris Dam does not have sufficient water to release and sustain the Sungai Muda river level, there will be widespread water crises in Southern Kedah and Penang. Besides Penang’s Lahar Tiang Intake, a total of 14 Kedah water treatment plants also abstract water from Sungai Muda daily for water supply in Southern Kedah.
What is the Contingency Plan?
It is also important for Kedah Government and the Federal Government to formulate a contingency plan to “support” or “protect” water supply services in Southern Kedah and Penang, in case the current dry season is prolonged. In 2016, during the Super El Niño phenomenon, the dry season lasted for 6 months. The rains only arrived in July 2016.
PBAPP’s Counter Measures
PBAPP is drawing down on the strategic reserves of the 73.5 billion litre Mengkuang Dam to complement raw water abstraction from Sungai Muda. As at 13.2.2020, the effective capacity of the Mengkuang Dam is 72.8%. The volume of water from the Mengkuang Dam should be enough to support Penang’s raw water needs until July 2020.
However, PBAPP is only able to draw down a maximum of 300 MLD from the Mengkuang Dam, while Penang’s average daily consumption of treated water was 843 MLD in 2019. Although we have a counter measure in the form of the Mengkuang dam, we are still highly dependent on raw water from Sungai Muda, on a daily basis.
As such, we are raising the alarm for urgent actions to be taken by Kedah and the Federal Government to ensure “no water rationing” in Penang and Southern Kedah in 2020.