GEORGE TOWN, April 16 – A series of 15 cloud seeding operations will be carried out to induce rainfall in the water catchment area (WCA) of the Air Itam Dam. These cloud seeding operations are endorsed by the Penang State Government and will be implemented by the State Water Regulatory Body (Badan Kawal Selia Air – BKSA) with assistance from Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP).

On 12.4. 2022, PBAPP had written to YB Zairil Khir Johari, the Penang State Executive Councillor for Infrastructure and Transportation, requesting for cloud seeding. On 15.4.2022, YB Zairil informed PBAPP that the BKSA will carry out cloud seeding as per PBAPP’s request. The plan is to implement cloud seeding operations in the period from April to August 2022. 

The focus is to specifically induce rainfall in the Air Itam Dam WCA. This WCA encompasses 5.75 sq. km of protected forestlands surrounding the dam. As at 15.4.2022, the following is the status of Penang’s 3 key dams:

 DamEffective capacity1.1.2022Effective capacity 15.4.2022
1.Air Itam 89.3%39.0%
2.Teluk Bahang 87.8%69.5%
3.Mengkuang 93.2%90.9%

Recently, there was some rainfall in Air Itam. However, the Air Itam Dam is still under “alert status” due to a low effective capacity of 39%. The primary cause is low rainfall in its WCA since 1.1.2022. The secondary cause is high daily water demand in the Air Itam township and surrounding areas since 1.1.2022.

3 KEY OBJECTIVES

The 3 key objectives of the 2022 Air Itam Dam WCA cloud seeding operations are as follows:

1.      Prevention of a water supply crisis in Air Itam and its surrounding areas in the period April to August 2022, if there is insufficient rainfall in the dam’s WCA and persistent high water demand.

2.      Refilling the dam with as much raw water as possible before the September 2022 rainy season. The Air Itam Dam may only be refilled by rainfall in its water catchment area.

3.      Achieving a 90% effective capacity (or higher) for the Air Itam Dam by December 2022, in preparation of the next dry season that should commence from 1.1.2023. Kindly note that it will take a significant amount of rainfall to increase the dam’s effective capacity from 39% to 90%.

PBAPP thanks the Penang State Government and BKSA for agreeing to carry out cloud seeding over the Air Itam Dam WCA. This is an essential measure in support of PBAPP’s commitment to sustain continuous good water supply services in Air Itam and its surrounding areas in 2022 and 2023, for the benefit of the people and businesses.

In 2020, the Penang State Government funded a cloud seeding campaign to prevent a water crisis in Penang, when Teluk Bahang Dam’s effective capacity was at its lowest at 16%. That 2020 cloud seeding campaign helped to ensure continuous good water supply services and no water rationing in Penang.