Dams running dry in northern region, utility company warns

An aerial view of Kedah’s Muda Dam in February, when capacity was at 7.4%. It has since dropped to 4.4%. (PBA pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBA) has warned of low levels at six key dams in Kedah and Penang, urging the government to carry out cloud seeding operations in the northern states.

The northern region generally experiences heavy rain in the first two weeks of April, but this year has been an exception as the weather has been abnormally dry.

PBA CEO Jaseni Maidinsa said cloud seeding could help prevent a water shortage during the movement control order (MCO) implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“With the presence of rain clouds now, it makes good sense to implement cloud seeding to induce as much rainfall as possible,” he said in a statement.

He added that access to water is key in the struggle to contain the virus spread.

The six dams in question serve some 3.95 million people in Penang and Kedah.

Jaseni said PBA had received reports of low water pressure from consumers in Air Itam, Bukit Bendera, Paya Terubong, Gertak Sanggul and Mount Erskine.

Adding that these areas are on higher ground, he said water tankers have been dispatched to the affected locations.

Usually, he said, pressure from the water plants would be boosted.

“However, in this present abnormal dry season scenario, PBA cannot aggressively draw down the low reserves of the Air Itam Dam and the Teluk Bahang Dam to supply more raw water to these water treatment plants.”

As of today, Kedah’s Muda Dam recorded the lowest capacity at 4.4%. In ascending order, it is followed by Teluk Bahang, Penang (20.9%), Air Itam, Penang (33.3%), Pedu, Kedah (33.4%), Beris, Kedah (39.6%) and Mengkuang, Penang (68.3%).

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