Cloud seeding to fill up Penang dams

Drying up: The water level at Ayer Itam dam sitting at 37% in George Town, Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: With little rain in the state over the last month, cloud seeding operations are being carried out over the water catchment areas in Ayer Itam and Teluk Bahang to improve the effective capacity at the dams there.

The operations are being done by the National Disaster Management (Nadma) with help from the Royal Malaysian Air Force, said Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer K. Pathmanathan.

“We received notification from the Penang Water Supply Regulator about the implementation of the first operation today (yesterday).

“From Feb 1 to Feb 27, only 45mm of rain fell in the Ayer Itam water catchment area and 71.5mm in the Teluk Bahang water catchment area,” he said in a statement.

Rainmaking: A cloud seeding operation by Nadma taking place. — Screen grab from Nadma’s social mediaRainmaking: A cloud seeding operation by Nadma taking place. — Screen grab from Nadma’s social media

The average rainfall for February is about 70mm. However, there is usually more rain between March and December.

Pathmanathan said cloud seeding operations in May and June last year contributed to a total of 30.5mm of rainfall, which helped to ensure that there was no water crisis in Air Itam last year.

“The effective capacity of the Ayer Itam dam is low while it is also dropping at the Teluk Bahang dam. Any rainfall will be useful to bolster the raw water reserve of these dams until the next rainy season,” he said.

Pathmanathan added that the Air Itam Dam Action Plan 2024 has managed to gradually raise the effective capacity of the dam by 4.2% over the past 22 days, during the hot and dry Chinese New Year period, although demand was high.

“PBAPP is abstracting raw water from Sungai Muda to support water production at the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant.

“Meanwhile, the capacity at the Muda dam and Beris dam, which release water into Sungai Muda, was reported as 63.2% and 100% respectively,” he said.

Pathmanathan thanked the Federal Government for initiating the much-needed cloud seeding operations.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said in Parliament yesterday that cloud seeding operations would be carried out around the Ayer Itam and Teluk Bahang dams in Penang and the Bukit Merah dam in Perak.

Penang has been facing a prolonged dry season for more than two months, with only sporadic rain in several parts of the island and mainland.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department has also issued a Level 1 heatwave warnings for the northern states on the peninsula. The Level 1 warning is issued when temperatures at a location are between 35ºC and 37ºC for three consecutive days.

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