Rains bring relief to folk in Klang Valley

KUALA LUMPUR - DOWNPOURS and, in some cases, thunderstorms occurred in several areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and here yesterday, raising hopes among those experiencing water shortage.

However, water and meteorological experts agreed this was a temporary reprieve from the dry spell which would not end water woes, especially the rationing exercise being carried out in several parts of Selangor and here.

For the rationing to be lifted, Drainage and Irrigation Department water resources and hydrology director Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor said water levels at the Batu 11 and Klang Gates dams, the two main sources of supply to the affected areas, must at least rise beyond their normal levels.

This means that the dams have to receive 9.47m of rain, combined, to reach this optimum level. The water level at the Batu 11 dam in fact dropped yesterday to 100.42m from 100.54m on Friday. Its normal level is 102m.

Klang Gates, which had 89.94m of water on the same day, dipped to 89.89m yesterday. It needs 94m to function at optimum level.

Klang Gates covers an area of 77.16 sq km while the Batu 11 Dam covers 50 sq km.

"The rain yesterday sadly did not fall anywhere near the water catchment areas as we had hoped for," Hanapi told the New Straits Times last night.

A National Water Services Commission (SPAN) official said water rationing would continue.

However, she said, the end of water woes for those in the Klang Valley could come earlier than March 31.

This could happen by middle of this month when the inter-monsoon sets in and brings continuous heavy rain with it.

The official said prolonged downpour during the inter-monsoon season could spell an end to the water crisis in the country. However, it would be a gradual process.

"The situation will only end if the heavy rainfall occurs in the water catchment areas, especially in critical spots such as rivers in the Klang Valley, especially Sungai Selangor."

Selangor Water Management Authority director Md Khairi Selamat said for the water at the dams to increase significantly, heavy rain must fall upstream of the two dams (Hulu Gombak upwards).

"Most dams in the Klang Valley are located upstream. Hence, rain in downstream areas will not make a difference to the dams' water levels."

Meteorological Department atmospheric science and cloud seeding division director Azhar Ishak said the rains which fell in the Klang Valley yesterday were isolated showers, and that they had minimal impact on water levels in the dams.

He said the department would most likely carry out cloud seeding to induce rainfall at water catchment areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor today, if there were suitable clouds (towering cumulus).

Azhar said the operation could be carried out between 1pm and 2pm or tomorrow, as the required atmospheric conditions of unstable, light and variable winds were readily present.

He told the NST that the clouds would induce "moderate rainfall" for no more than an hour, some 20 minutes after the seeding. "The process will also increase the intensity of rainfall if carried out on existing rain clouds."

In Seremban, residents welcomed the rain, even though it lasted less than two hours.

Apart from Seremban, parts of Senawang and Rembau also experienced downpours yesterday.

There, and in various parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, many were seen playing in the rain.

Within an hour of the New Straits Times' Facebook page putting up two pictures of rain falling in the Klang Valley, some 130 comments were received.

Facebook user Johnny Yeow was one of those who commented, saying: "Hope heavy and non-stop rain around Klang Gates (dam) to fill up the dams so no need water rationing around Selangor."

Saw Goo Moo Kajang, meanwhile, said: "Rain come ahead. Heavy and darken the whole sky. Our prayer has been answered. More of rain! Oh more of rain, just fill the drying dam. Woohoo."