Dams dry up even as it rains in JB

More areas may have to resort to water rationing by end of the month

JOHOR BARU • There has been continual rain in and around Johor Baru for the past three days but this has done little so far to alleviate the dire situation in dams around the state.

Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Hasni Mohammad said water rationing for areas in and around Johor Baru and Pasir Gudang could be introduced by the end of the month, according to a report in the Malay Mail.

He said water at the Congok dam in Mersing could last only two weeks at the very most if the prolonged dry spell continued.

"We know we have rain in Johor Baru and the outlying areas over the past three days and more rain is expected. But the rain is not falling over the areas where we want it, like the catchment areas and over the dams," he said.

Datuk Hasni said the state was looking into hiring companies to carry out cloud seeding instead of relying solely on the Meteorological Department.

The dams, which supply water to households in Pasir Gudang and Johor Baru, are among several dams in the country which have seen a significant drop in water levels, leading to water rationing in some areas.

"A budget of RM300,000 (S$102,000) has already been set aside by the state government for cloud-seeding operations and, hopefully, we get the desired results," he said.

Unless the water levels at the Congok and Layang dams improve, almost 885,000 consumers in four districts would be affected by scheduled water rationing by the end of the month, according to Mr Hasni.

He said there had not been much improvement in the water levels at both dams despite the downpours in Johor Baru.

"At least 85,000 consumers in the Mersing and Kota Tinggi districts have been experiencing scheduled water rationing for the past month.

"If the water level at the Layang dam does not increase by the end of this month, some 800,000 consumers in Johor Baru and Pasir Gudang will also face scheduled water rationing," he told a press conference on Thursday.

He added that the Congok dam was able to supply water only for another two weeks while the Layang dam could supply water for about a month.

Mr Hasni also said the state government was looking into the option of tapping underground water, adding that it was engaging Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's expertise for that.

The dams, which supply water to households in Pasir Gudang and Johor Baru, are among several dams in the country which have seen a significant drop in water levels, leading to water rationing in some areas.

Johor is not the only state in Malaysia where water levels in dams are running low because of a prolonged dry spell. The other dams affected include Timah Tasoh in northern Perlis, Bukit Merah in Perak and Gemencheh in Negri Sembilan. There are 41 dams in Peninsular Malaysia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Dams dry up even as it rains in JB'. Print Edition | Subscribe