Large underground canal may ease KL's flood woes: Mayor

Motorists stuck in traffic after heavy rain caused flash floods in Kuala Lumpur last week. KL's mayor called for a rainwater management solution that would ensure the entire city would be able to handle similar conditions.
Motorists stuck in traffic after heavy rain caused flash floods in Kuala Lumpur last week. KL's mayor called for a rainwater management solution that would ensure the entire city would be able to handle similar conditions.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's capital city needs to build an underground waterway big enough to serve as an outlet for water to flow out of the city when it rains heavily, said Mayor Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz, responding to public anger over flooding that affected many parts of the city last week.

"Heavy rainfall for two or three straight hours guarantee there will be an overflow of water because of our geographical location (in a valley)," he was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online (MMO) news site yesterday. "We need a channel to divert the excess water from the city. A big underground waterway is a feasible solution."

Datuk Mohd Amin said the city government would soon present a list of problems facing Kuala Lumpur and their proposed solutions to Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Heavy rain last Thursday caused flooding in parts of KL, engulfing many vehicles and shops.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said last week that the flash floods occurred because the drainage system was incapable of accommodating the intensity of the rainfall, at more than 80mm per hour.

The mayor said that while it was possible to install water pumps in flood hot spots to divert the rising water, the underlying problem would not be solved.

"We need a solution which ensures every part of the city is ready to receive continuous rainfall with the intensity of more than 80mm per hour," MMO quoted him as saying. He did not say how much his plan for a giant waterway would cost.

In 2007, Malaysia started operating a RM2 billion (S$680 million) flood-management tunnel to divert water from around the Petronas Twin Towers area.

Called the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel system, the 9.7km-long drain has mostly alleviated storms from causing flooding in the heart of the capital.

The tunnel has a diameter of 13.2m and is divided into two halves, with the bottom half used as a giant drain.

The top half is normally used as a road to disperse cars from the city, but will be closed to traffic and used as additional waterway when heavy rains threaten to flood the area.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Large underground canal may ease KL's flood woes: Mayor'. Print Edition | Subscribe