Penang needs cloud seeding

On high alert: The water level at Ayer Itam dam on Penang island dipped to 35.4% as of yesterday. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) will propose to the relevant authorities to carry out cloud seeding as the water level in the state falls to near alarming levels.

Its chairman, Charles Santiago, said SPAN would propose the move to the Energy Transition and Water Transformation Ministry, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) and the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).

“We are reaching out to the concerned ministry and agencies before water capacity in the state’s dams dwindles to a critical level,” he said.

“SPAN has no authorisation to conduct cloud seeding.

“SPAN is responsible for ensuring that raw water resources are adequate to maintain the water treatment plants’ normal operations, preventing any disruptions in water supply to consumers,” he said.

Penang has been experiencing a dry spell in recent weeks, leading to low water levels in its dams, particularly the Ayer Itam dam on the island.

As of yesterday, the effective capacity at Ayer Itam dam and Teluk Bahang dam, both on the island, were 36.6% and 81.6% respectively.

Santiago said the management of raw water resources is under the purview of the state government.

He said that according to the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (Act 655), SPAN’s authority only oversaw water supply and treatment services within Peninsular Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Labuan.

“Hence, the state water operator always initiates the application for conducting cloud seeding. In this instance, the dam’s water level has dropped below the effective capacity,” he said.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer K. Pathmanathan said the current adequate capacity of the Ayer Itam dam is enough to last for just another 36 days.

“This is based on using 22 million litres daily (MLD). The maximum effective capacity of the dam is 2,159 MLD,” he said.

He said they were waiting for feedback from the ministry and the state’s directive.

“We have requested SPAN to help plan and execute cloud seeding operations to support PBAPP’s efforts to increase the adequate capacity of the Ayer Itam dam.

“We have stated that cloud seeding operations are crucial for PBAPP to maintain continuous water supply services in Ayer Itam for the benefit of approximately 30,000 water users, including domestic and non-domestic consumers,” he said.

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