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Absence of rainfall may result in water shortage but capacity expected to be sufficient: Penang Water Supply Corp

GEORGE TOWN: A drop in the water level at the Air Itam Dam, which is currently at 30%, is not a cause for panic, said the Penang Water Supply Corporation.

Its CEO K. Pathmanathan said yesterday the island may face a water shortage if there is no rainfall in the coming weeks.

“So, even if the water level has been declining, we expect the supply to be sufficient.

“However, to be on the safe side and to ensure supply sufficiency, we need to use water wisely and reduce consumption by 10%.”

The dam serves about 170,000 residents in Air Itam, Paya Terubong and parts of Green Lane on the island. Water levels at the dam were recorded at 32.8% on Feb 5.

On Feb 3, the Air Itam Water Dam Action Plan 2024 (AIDAP 2024) was implemented to potentially increase water levels to 50% by the end of this month.

However, recent festivities necessitated an increase of raw water being treated at the Air Itam water treatment plant from April 12 to 14.

On the low water level, the Penang Water Supply Corporation said in a statement that it has been operating on “alert status” since Jan 1.

“At the beginning of this year, the effective capacity of the dam was 68.9%.

“We have reduced the drawdown to the range of 11 million litres per day (MLD) of raw water from the dam since April 15 to increase the water level.

“The raw water drawdown was 25.82 MLD between April 10 and 14. The corporation is still actively defending its remaining reserves through AIDAP 2024.”

Pathmanathan said water reserve levels had previously gone down to 20% and yet, there was no water supply disruption.

The annual average consumption in Penang was recorded at 877 MLD in 2023, an increase of 17 MLD from 860 MLD in 2021. In February, the average daily water consumption in Penang was 927 MLD.

“There was a sudden surge of 50 MLD in water consumption year-on-year last month,” said Pathmanathan.

According to international weather reports, there will be a transition from the hot and dry El Nino phenomenon to the wet and rainy La Nina phenomenon soon.

The Meteorological Department has also forecast a higher rainfall in Penang between April and July, with the arrival of the inter-monsoon season.