Penang seeks cloud seeding as water levels in Air Itam Dam drop below 40%

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Water Supply Corporation has requested that cloud seeding be done as water levels in Air Itam Dam drop below 40%.

Serving some 170,000 residents in Air Itam, Paya Terubong, and the surrounding areas on the island, a water shortage in the dam could lead to a water crisis.

The dam's water level, which was over 80% last month and 67% on Jan 6, has since dropped to 37.7% on Tuesday (Jan 30).

The situation level is worsened with increased pumping to offset losses from a burst pipe in Sungai Perai on the mainland.

According to past data from the water company, dry weather and increased demand during Chinese New Year festivities also contributed to a further drop in water levels.

The corporation's chief executive officer, K. Pathmanathan, said cloud seeding over the dam had been requested.

"The dam’s capacity has breached Alert Level 2 with an effective capacity of 39.37%.

We are liaising with the state to carry out cloud seeding exercises during the coming inter-monsoon season," he told an online news portal.

The first alert level is 50%, the second is 40%, and the third and final alarm is 30%.

The Air Itam dam, with a maximum effective capacity of 2.16 billion litres of water, has demonstrated resilience over the past two months, preventing water shortages in the broader Air Itam area. This is unlike other regions in the state that faced disruptions due to repair and upgrade works on pipelines at the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant and 22 other locations.

On Dec 1 last year, the dam's capacity was 83% until the underwater pipeline in Sungai Perai burst.

In response to the emergency, the dam's water production surged from 22 million to 40 million litres per day, causing a decline to 67% by Jan 6.

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