Dry spell to affect dam levels and farms

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 24 Mar 2019

PETALING JAYA: The continuous dry season, likely to last until May, will affect dam levels and the planting of padi, says the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry.

Reiterating calls for prudent water use, Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said there are three dams which have water levels of only around 50% and one below that.

“The three are Muda Dam (Kedah) at 58.97%, Machap Dam (Johor) at 55.61% and Sembrong Dam (Johor) at 54.07% while for the Bukit Kwong Dam in Kelantan, the storage capacity is 37.28%,” he said.

In a statement issued yesterday, Dr Xavier noted that the country began feeling the impact of extreme hot weather since January, which resulted in a drought that affected water sources and related activities such as water supply and agriculture.

During this period, certain areas have not had any rainfall; in Setiu, Terengganu, it has not rained for the past 30 days and worse in Hulu Perak, which has not seen any rainfall for the past 56 days, he added.

“Other critical areas that have received only a cumulative rainfall (for the quarterly period of January to March) that is below 25% of the average annual rainfall include Rembau and Tampin in Negri Sembilan, Rompin in Pahang, and Hulu Perak in Perak.”

Dr Xavier also said six states – Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perak, Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan – are predicted to get a cumulative rainfall below 25% of the average annual rainfall for April and May.

“This will result in a hot and dry period that causes a reduction in water sources in rivers and dams.”

He said the daily water needs of consumers, be it for residential, industrial or agricultural use, have to be controlled.

“For padi farmers, water has to be channelled using the rationing method or the rescheduling of padi replanting,” he added.Dr Xavier said it is predicted that the Sungai Muda, Sungai Kedah and Sungai Melaka basins require additional water channelled from various dams.“The high demand for water for padi farming purposes in Sungai Muda is in March while in Sungai Kedah, it is in April,” he said.

He added that the Department of Irrigation and Drainage had requested the authorities in their respective states to control water release from the dams.

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the drought had adversely affected more than 7,440ha of padi farming land involving 2,555 farmers in Kelantan during the padi replanting season.

“The Kemubu Agriculture Develop­ment Authority has started the rotational system for padi planting.”

The ministry, he added, is assisting affected farmers by providing support pumps as well as mobile and backward pumps.

“If the drought persists, the Metereological Department (Met­Malaysia) and the ministry will use their allocations to begin cloud seeding,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Alor Setar, state exco chairman Zamri Yusuf said the situation in Kedah will be under control at least until May.

“The Beris, Muda, Pedu and Ahning dams have enough water to sustain us until May,” he said.

In Ipoh, state exco member Abdul Yunus Jamhari has assured the people that there will not be any disruption in water supply during the current heatwave as most of its dams are at a safe level.

A report in The Star yesterday said the MetMalaysia website has showed that several states are expected to see thunderstorms in the coming week.

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