Brace for dry spell

Hot weather: A general view of the Teluk Bahang Dam with its current capacity expected to provide water supply for about 185 days. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

PENANGITES have been reminded to use water wisely during the current hot spell which is expected to last until mid April.

As of yesterday, the capacity at the Teluk Bahang Dam was 59.9%, the Ayer Itam Dam 87.6% and the Mengkuang Dam at 95.1%.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said although the situation was still under control, he said the weather pattern had changed and it was hard to predict exactly when the drought season would end.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that Penang will always have water supply and no water rationing will be implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If there is no water, how can we wash our hands, or clean our surroundings during this pandemic, ” he said.

For the Teluk Bahang Dam, the water level was much improved compared to the same time last year which was only 41.8%.

“We started several proactive measures and contingency plans to increase the water level at the dam.

“This has resulted in more water there, just in time for the upcoming drought season.

“I was only targeting the water level at the dam to be at 45% by the end of 2020, ” Jaseni told the state-run Bulletin Mutiara.

He said the current capacity at the Teluk Bahang dam would ensure water supply for about 185 days, or equivalent to six months for 30,000 users in Teluk Bahang, Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi.

Among the contingency plans taken by PBAPP was finding a quick alternative solution such as transferring raw water from Sungai Pinang and Titi Kerawang water catchment area and also from the Batu Ferringhi water catchment area to the Teluk Bahang Dam during the rainy season in October, 2020.

“We also proposed a cloud seeding operation to fill the big dam, ” he said.

Jaseni said the state government approved a total of RM450,000 for 15 cloud seeding operations to increase the water level at the Teluk Bahang Dam.

Meanwhile, Penang Fire and Rescue Department director Saadon Moktar said there were cases of open burning by people in villages.

“It is currently under control, but I do advise people to abstain from burning dried leaves.

“People call us and report that they see smoke. When we check it out, it is someone burning rubbish.

“Our firemen have to climb hills, like during the recent fire in Tanjung Bungah, which took hours and a lot of manpower to put out, ” he said.

According to Saadon, the department has 832 firemen, with 700 men who work the grounds in three shifts.

On Feb 4,50 firemen put out a large forest fire at Jalan Chee Seng in Tanjung Bungah.

They took more than six hours to contain the fire after the department received a distress call about the fire at about 4.42pm.

On Feb 6, firemen battled a bush fire at the Batu Lanchang Chinese cemetery in Lorong Batu Lanchang.

A day later on Feb 7, another bushfire of unknown cause flared up on the island’s hill range in Ayer Itam.

Firemen had to trek 300m up the hilly woods to put out the fire that covered 0.8ha near Kek Lok Si Temple in Ayer Itam.

Penang environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh urged the public to stop open burning activities as it is an offence and they can be charged in court.

“We do have people on the ground warning the public about open fires. Voluntary fire squads are on alert to assist.

“We have noticed people trying to clear overgrowth by burning them and causing fires in the forest.

“We hope the public understands the dangers of open burning, ” he said.

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