KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s water supply will reach critical levels if an El Nino induced drought stretches beyond July, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Pairin said water resources at most districts were sufficient for another three months.
“Taps are running dry at dozens of villages dependent on gravity feed system from springs or streams that have dried up.
“We are getting them help,” he said.
Pairin, the state Infrastructure Development Minister, said the Water Department was now deploying its tankers as well as privately owned ones, to send water to villages.
Among the worst hit were the communities at the nation’s northernmost Banggi island off Kudat and Sebatik island in the east coast.
Pairin said the department was prepared to send water by barge to both islands if necessary.
Other districts hit by the drought where water needed to be sent in by trucks include Pitas in the north and Kuala Penyu in the west coast, he said after visiting the Kasigui water intake point at Penampang near here.
He said his ministry was looking at other measures to overcome the water shortage, including cloud seeding, which was expensive and unreliable as well.
He said other options being considered include using desalination plants.
The state government was also looking at whether the contaminated water at the massive Mamut copper mine open pit could be treated and used.
“There’s about 20.6mil cubic metres of water in that pit. That’s a lot of water.
“Now, if we can only find a way to treat that acidic water,” he said.
Over the long term, he said the construction of a RM400mil water supply dam would begin in the east coast Tawau district later this year.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said separately that the Sabah Cabinet had discussed the state’s preparedness for a water supply emergency if the drought persisted.
The chief minister has directed State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman to activate the disaster relief committees at the districts to quickly respond to any situation, he said after opening a fisheries conference here.
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