THE tumbling cascade of the waterfall in the Penang Botanic Gardens seems to mask the truth behind Penang’s water supply.
“This waterfall has never dried up since the days of Captain Francis Light.
“Even though everything looks nice, this source of water has shrunk by about half. Penang still has water, but we are nowfacing a super drought,” said PBA Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa.
He said Penang’s rainfall had dropped by more than 60% this year and weather reports predicted that El Nino would last until June.
“Even with so little rain, this waterfall still provides us with about nine million litres every day. This is why we must always protect Penang Hill because the hill is where this water comes from,” he told about 40 press members invited on a special tour of the treatment plant, which is a restricted area.
The plant was completed in 1805 andsupplies water to about 60,000 households along Jalan Kebun Bunga, Jalan Utama and Scotland Road, plus the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s residence and Penang Hospital.
Urging Penangites to start water conservation strategies, Jaseni said Air Itam Dam has enough water to last 59 days while Teluk Bahang Dam is still good for 187 days.
He called on Penangites to visit www.pba.com.my and adopt water-saving techniques listed there.
He added that the Mengkuang Dam was 90.5% full but its water could not be channeled because of expansion works.
A new dam wall is being built beside the present one and after the targeted completion by the middle of next year, the dam’s height will grow by 11m and its length by 1.7km to the west.
This is the RM1.2bil expansion projectby Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry and when done, its capacity will shoot up from 23mil cubic metres to 83mil.
“In a worst case scenario, we may have to resort to a mechanical extraction of water from the Mengkuang Dam,” he said.