Penang authority to ensure PIL1 does not affect dam, water sources

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow during a visit to the Air Itam dam last year. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s water authority said it will ensure that construction of the Pan Island Link Phase 1 (PIL1) does not affect the Air Itam dam and water sources in the area.

Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) said it will keep an eye
on the construction works and monitor the status of the dam, its water intake points and the main pipelines.

PBAPP’s chief executive officer, Jaseni Maidinsa, said it had informed the Department of the Environment (DoE) the PIL1 consultants must comply with state legislation regarding the dam and related water assets.

He said the consultants must ensure that blasting and drilling works did not compromise the structural integrity of the dam.

They had been told to submit an “engineering vibration study report” to verify that the construction works did not jeopardise the dam and other water assets, including raw water intake, treated water reservoirs and major pipelines.

The NGO Penang Hill Watch (PHW) had said last week that three water intake points in the Air Itam hills were located close to the alignment of PIL1.

It said the water intake points, belonging to PBAPP, were the Air Itam main stream, the Air Itam side stream and Tat’s stream.

PHW said these points were sources of water supply to the Air Itam dam, which provided water to a major segment of the island’s population.

In a statement yesterday, Jaseni confirmed that the PIL1 alignment would pass through the areas “near the Tat’s intake and main intake” for the Air Itam water treatment plant.

While PBAPP had expressed its concerns regarding the construction of PIL1, he said, it also felt that roads and highways may be built safely near dams.

“In Kedah, roads, highways and bridges have been built near the Muda dam and the Beris dam, as well as along the length and across Sungai Muda, Penang’s main raw water resource.

“These road infrastructure projects do not appear to have jeopardised the dams or the river,” he said.

Jaseni said the challenge for the PIL1 contractors was to ensure that construction works did not compromise the safety and structural integrity of the dam, as well as the functionality of the water intakes, reservoirs and pipelines.

“The keyword is ‘safety’. PBAPP will keep an eye on the construction works. We will also carefully monitor the status of the dam, the reservoir, Tat’s intake and the main intake for the Air Itam water treatment plant, and all main pipelines.

“If there are any negative consequences, we will not hesitate to file a report to the relevant authorities. The Badan Kawal Selia Air Pulau Pinang (Penang State Water Regulatory Authority) and the Penang government are empowered to take action against all parties undertaking the PIL1 project,” he said.