GEORGE TOWN, May 9 – Penang faces a severe water shortage due to low rainfall and high water consumption, according to a press release issued by Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) on Monday. With the raw water reserves of the two dams on the island below 50%, PBAPP is recommending a second wave of cloud seeding operations in Penang soon. The first wave of cloud seeding operations for Penang in 2023 was carried out from 2.5.2023 to 4.5.2023, but much more rainfall is required to replenish the dams.
During the three-day cloud seeding operation, PBAPP recorded 8.5mm of rainfall in the Air Itam Dam water catchment area and 19.5mm of rainfall in the Teluk Bahang Dam water catchment area. However, the effective capacities of the two dams continue to drop. On 1 January 2023, Air Itam Dam was at 82.5% capacity, while Teluk Bahang Dam was at 64%. On 1 May 2023, before the cloud seeding, Air Itam Dam was at 43.6%, and Teluk Bahang Dam was at 49.1%. After the first cloud seeding, on 7 May 2023, Air Itam Dam was at 41.5%, and Teluk Bahang Dam was at 48.4%.
PBAPP has stated that the depletion of dam reserves is due to low volumes of rainfall since 1 January 2023 and high water consumption. Domestic water consumption accounted for 61.6% of total water consumption in Penang in 2022. In 2022, PBAPP supplied 868 million litres of treated water per day in Penang, the highest average volume per day for one year in PBAPP’s history. In January 2023, PBAPP broke the 2022 record by supplying an average of 875 MLD. In February 2023, PBAPP supplied an even higher average of 944 MLD.
PBAPP is appealing to all domestic water consumers in Penang to use less water at home immediately. The easiest and most effective way to use less water at home is to stop using a hose. Consumers are urged to use a watering can to water plants or gardens, a bucket, cloth, and sponge to clean vehicles, and a broom and dustpan to clean yards or patios. Consumers are also asked to open the tap only when necessary and shut it off immediately after use.
With the possibility of a hot and dry El Niño phenomenon this year, PBAPP recommends the implementation of a second wave of cloud seeding in Penang to optimize rainfall in the water catchment areas of the Air Itam Dam and Teluk Bahang Dam. PBAPP hopes that by conserving the reserves of the Air Itam Dam, the smallest dam in Penang, it will be able to prevent it from reaching 0% capacity. Otherwise, there will be no water left to supply to Air Itam, Paya Terubong, and nearby areas.