Kelantan needs at least two dams to prevent flooding, says expert

Procedures need review: Hydrologist Dr Zulkifli has 30 years experience in flood modelling and mitigation.

JOHOR BARU: At least two flood mitigation dams need to be built in Kelantan to avert widespread flooding during the monsoon season in the state.

UTM Water Research Alliance dean of research Prof Dr Zulkifli Yusof said that the present Pergau hydroelectric dam was too small to handle such a large volume of water.

He added that other mitigation procedures include proper land use including not planting rubber or oil palm in 30 degree slopes.

Dr Zulkifli said that another good alternative was to reforest the affected areas and also have buffer strips along rivers.

He said that the time has come for the government to review all its procedures with regards to flood mitigation as stopping logging alone would not prevent floods from occurring.

He added that the present standard operating procedures needed to be overhauled. “Climate change will bring about extreme rainfall in wet areas while dry areas will face harsher conditions.

“This flood in Kelantan was far worst than the one which hit Johor in 2006 and 2007,” he said in an interview.

Dr Zulkifli, who is a hydrologist with about 30 years experience in flood modelling and mitigation, said that a team from UTM visited all the affected areas in Kelantan as part of a six month research to find out the possible causes of the flooding and how to mitigate it.

“This time there was a huge amount of rainfall as in one of the 13 weather stations in Kelantan known as Gunung Gagau, the rainfall for six days was 1,820mm.

“This is a record high for the country as far as I can remember,” he said, adding that the annual rainfall for Kelantan was about 2,300mm to 2,500mm per year.

Dr Zulkifli added that his team had been gathering data from the weather stations managed by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.

“Our normal forest system will only be able to absorb about 50mm of water while the rest will be released into streams.

“Most of the rainfall in Kelantan is recorded during the monsoon season between November, December and January,” he said, adding that during the first wave of floods in Johor, rainfall was recorded at about 500mm while the second wave was 400mm.

Dr Zulkifli added that his team also discovered widespread landslides at locations planted with vegetables, oil palm, rubber and even around forested areas.

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