Penang pleads for cloud seeding

Drying up: The water level of Teluk Bahang dam in Penang is at 20.7% capacity.

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has sent an urgent appeal to the Meteorological Department to conduct cloud seeding to induce more rain over Penang and Kedah.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the reason for this request was that the effective capacities of the six key reservoirs in Penang and Kedah were low due to abnormally dry weather since the second half of 2019.

“The Sungai Muda river level has dropped to 1.29m on Tuesday, below the critical level of 1.5m. The normal level of Sungai Muda is above 2m.

“We need more rainfall now in the catchment areas of the six key reservoirs, as well as Sungai Muda, because Penang and Kedah must have sufficient water supply to fight Covid-19.

“In Penang, the Ayer Itam Dam is at 33%, Teluk Bahang Dam is at 20.9% and Mengkuang Dam is at 68.3%, while in Kedah, the Muda Dam is at 4.4%, the Beris Dam is at 39.6% and the Pedu Dam is at 33.4%.

“As it stands, a total of 3.95 million people residing in Penang and Kedah need water daily to practise good personal hygiene.

“We do not know how long we have to fight Covid-19, even after the movement control order (MCO) is lifted.

“We hope the Meteorological Department will act promptly on our request in the interest of public health and safety, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Jaseni said the Muda and Beris reservoirs in Kedah released water into Sungai Muda, the primary raw water resource for Penang and southern Kedah, during dry seasons.

“According to the Meteorological Department, we are presently in the inter-monsoon season, where rain may be expected.

“However, Penang is requesting for cloud seeding now to mitigate the risks.

“With the presence of rain clouds now, it makes sense to implement cloud seeding to induce as much rainfall as possible because the potential for success is high, ” Jaseni said, adding that there had been intermittent water issues in certain areas.

“PBAPP has received a number of ‘low water pressure’ or ‘no water supply’ reports from consumers in the past few days.

“These complaints are related to water supply issues faced by a few households in Pokok Ceri, Hye Keat Estate in Ayer Itam, a flat block in Taman Bukit Bendera, Kampung Paya Terubong, Kampung Gertak Sanggul, and Mount Erskine behind Lorong Air Terjun, all generally classified as ‘higher ground’ or ‘end-of-pipeline’ areas.

“As and when water consumption is too high, these areas will experience low pressure or no water, ” he said.

PBAPP has responded by dispatching water tankers to the affected areas.

“Our normal response is to boost water production at the Ayer Itam and Batu Ferringhi water treatment plants.

“However, in this present abnormal dry season, PBAPP cannot aggressively draw down the Ayer Itam and Teluk Bahang reservoirs to supply more raw water to these water treatment plants.

“We apologise to consumers who are experiencing intermittent water issues, and we will continue to do our best to alleviate the situation, ” he said.

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