More rain expected in next three months to refill Penang dams, says PBAPP

GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Meteorological Department’s (MetMalaysia) forecast of higher rainfall in Penang from April to July will hopefully replenish water levels at dams in the state, especially at Air Itam Dam which was reported to be at critical level.

Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer K. Pathmanathan has urged consumers especially in Air Itam to reduce water usage by 10% in April, May and June to ensure sufficient water in Penang while waiting for arrival of the inter-monsoon season.

ALSO READ: Air Itam dam at stage 3 of critical level, enough water for 30 days

He also clarified that the 30.3% remaining capacity in Air Itam Dam is not a cause for panic.

"The result of the Air Itam Dam Action Plan (AIDAP) over the past 70 days should reassure water consumers in Air Itam that a 30.3% dam effective capacity is not a cause for panic.

"PBAPP does not know how long this hot and dry spell will last.

"However, water supply services are still normal in the Air Itam service area.

ALSO READ: Use water wisely until dams re-fill, Penang residents told

"According to international weather reports, there will be a transition from a hot and dry El Nino phenomenon to a wet and rainy La Nina phenomenon soon," he said in a statement on Tuesday (April 15).

Pathmanathan further clarified that PBAPP has been operating Air Itam Dam on 'alert status' since early of the year and its reserves are being defended through AIDAP, with speculations that it would only sustain for only 30 days to not be entirely true.

ALSO READ: No water crisis despite heat, says SPAN

"As far as the Air Itam Dam is concerned, PBAPP has been operating on 'alert status' since Jan 1.

"At the beginning of this year, the effective capacity of the dam was 68.9%, and not 100%.

"From January, PBAPP was aware that drawdowns from this dam must be managed carefully until the rainy seasons of 2024.

"On Feb 5, with the onset of the full El Nino phenomenon in Penang, PBAPP implemented the AIDAP as a contingency measure when the dam’s effective capacity dropped to 32.8%.

"In mid-April, there is no denying that the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam was low at 30.3% but it does not directly mean it would last for just 30 days as speculated.

"This is an estimate which is misleading because there is an important qualification - with no rainfall.

ALSO READ: Jus Dam at 81.1% capacity, no water cuts in Alor Gajah expected, says Melaka govt

"When there is rainfall in the Air Itam water catchment area, the 'number of days' will change.

"The speculation was also based on dry weather drawdowns of 22 million litres daily (MLD).

"Today, PBAPP is implementing the AIDAP with 11 MLD drawdowns," he said.

Through AIDAP, the normal average drawdown of water from 44 MLD was cut down to 11 MLD, with water from the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant (WTP) being pumped to the Air Itam service area to make up for the 33 MLD shortfall in daily drawdowns.

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