GEORGE TOWN, June 14 – Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) aims to provide clarification regarding the role of the Expanded Mengkuang Dam (EMD) as a strategic drought reserve dam that supports the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant (WTP), rather than being a daily dam like the Air Itam Dam or Teluk Bahang Dam. Under normal conditions, PBAPP exclusively abstracts raw water from Sungai Muda to ensure 100% treated water production at the Sungai Dua WTP.
However, during drought or emergency situations, PBAPP may draw down a maximum of 300 million liters per day (MLD) from the EMD specifically for use at the Sungai Dua WTP. It is important to note that the raw water in the EMD cannot be pumped or supplied to any other water treatment plant or dam in the State of Penang, aside from the Sungai Dua WTP. In March 2023, PBAPP abstracted an average of 1,254 MLD of water from Sungai Muda to produce 1,028 MLD at the Sungai Dua WTP. The EMD is utilized only when PBAPP cannot abstract the required 1,254 MLD from Sungai Muda.
Thus, the EMD serves as a backup raw water resource for the Sungai Dua WTP when Sungai Muda levels are low, as evidenced by its use during the recent Sungai Muda river level incident on 14th May 2023. However, the EMD has two significant limitations. Firstly, its maximum drawdown capacity is 300 MLD, which can only support approximately 23.9% of the full treated water production at the Sungai Dua WTP. Secondly, the raw water from the EMD is exclusively channeled to the Sungai Dua WTP and cannot be pumped to any other water treatment plant or dam in Penang.
The EMD was specifically constructed to support treated water production solely at the Sungai Dua WTP, which supplies over 80% of the treated water provided by PBAPP to the Seberang Perai and South-West District areas of Penang Island. The service area of the Sungai Dua WTP encompasses approximately 453,954 residential and business premises in Seberang Perai Utara (SPU), Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT), Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS), and the South-West District of Penang Island.
Apart from these areas, the remaining 222,903 water consumers in Penang are served by the Air Itam Dam, Bukit Pancur Dam, Teluk Bahang Dam, and eight other water treatment plants. PBAPP manages all dams and water treatment plants in Penang to ensure 100% urban and 99.8% rural water supply coverage. Without these dams and water treatment plants, the water supply for the 222,903 consumers outside the service area of the Sungai Dua WTP would be at risk. In the event of an emergency, such as the Air Itam Dam running dry, PBAPP has the option to pump more water from the Sungai Dua WTP into the service area of the Air Itam Dam.
However, this must be done cautiously to avoid water supply disruptions, pipe bursts, or breakdowns throughout the state. In conclusion, the EMD functions as a strategic drought reserve dam for the Sungai Dua WTP and has a drawdown capacity of 300 MLD. It is crucial for all water consumers in Penang to reduce their water consumption to sustain water supply in the face of high water demand and ongoing drought conditions.
PBAPP is actively managing the reservoir levels of the Air Itam Dam and Teluk Bahang Dam, and urges the cooperation of consumers to conserve water by adopting simple measures such as using watering cans instead of hoses, using buckets for cleaning vehicles, and turning off taps when not in use.