Baling floods cause water supply disruption to Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Tap water in many parts of the state has begun returning to normal but many are still not able to get on with their daily lives ever since the floods in Baling, Kedah, made Penang’s primary water source in Sungai Muda too turbid to be treated.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said its outlet in Bukit Jambul had stopped dine-in since late Wednesday afternoon when the water supply slowed to a trickle.

“There is water today, but the pressure is still low and we are only doing takeaways until it is fully restored,” he said yesterday.

Penang Hindu Association (PHA) president P. Murugiah said a few orphanages in Gelugor and Bayan Lepas had requested help as they could not prepare meals for the children without water.

“PHA is sending mineral water bottles and lunch packs to two homes as there is totally no water supply in Gelugor,” he said.

Businessman R. Sathiaseelan, 65, in Bayan Baru, kept checking his water taps and was relieved to find a trickle of water at 1am yesterday.

His taps abruptly ran dry at 2.30pm on Wednesday.

“My wife and I were not prepared and we did not stock up on water,” he said.

Even though there was a trickle, Sathiaseelan said the water pressure was extremely low and his wife could not wash nor cook anything yesterday.

In Gelugor, taps were still dry as of late afternoon yesterday.

Housewife Kamariah Abd Halim, 37, who was with her mother, said it was an ardous task to handle her three children as she could not do any housework.

“None of us thought this would happen in Penang because we would always get an early notice of water disruptions.

“There was still no water until 5pm (yesterday). We thought the water supply would be restored by noon.

“We already incurred extra expenses for food in the past two days. We hope things will be back to normal by midnight,” she said.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the water supply disruptions caused by a deluge of mud into Sungai Muda after the Baling floods showed why Penang needed the Sungai Perak raw water transfer project.

“What happened on Wednesday was an eye-opener on the need for an alternative raw water source for Penang,” he said.

He urged the Federal Government and the relevant ministries to look into speeding up the matter.

“We need an alternative raw water supply to complement Sungai Muda.

“The Sungai Perak raw water scheme has been postponed for 11 years. We see now how important it is,” he said at a press conference at the Sungai Dua water treatment plant (WTP) in Tasek Gelugor yesterday.

On Wednesday, thousands of households were left without water because the Sungai Dua WTP had to be shut down due to the extreme turbidity of Sungai Muda, caused by floodwater from Baling, after the district was inundated on Monday.

The sudden dry taps caused Penangites to go into a water-buying frenzy and many supermarkets saw their stock of drinking water sold out within hours.

The supply was scheduled to be fully resumed at about 6pm yesterday.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said they had always insisted that the Ulu Muda water catchment area must be gazetted to ensure the quality of raw water supply from Sungai Muda.

“PBAPP and the state government have proposed to set up the Ulu Muda basin authority to ensure the quality and quantity of raw water. We will continue to draw water stored in Mengkuang dam to ensure safe water turbidity levels,” he added.

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