Cloud seeding as dams dry up in Johor

KULAIJAYA: The water level at several dams in Johor have dropped below the critical level, affecting more than 157,000 consumers.

Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) director Abdul Rashid A. Rahman said the water levels at the Sultan Iskandar dam in Masai, Sungai Lebam dam in Kota Tinggi and Congok dam in Mersing have fallen below their critical levels due to lack of rain from the end of last year.

The Sultan Iskandar dam was at 20.96m, well below the critical mark of 23.5m and can only last for another 72 days. It supplies water to some 140,000 households in the Masai area.

The Sungai Lebam dam had 10.5m of water, below the 12.27m critical level. The Congok dam was at 4.5m, which is its critical level.

In a bid to overcome the problem, the state is now carrying out a series of cloud seeding to increase the water levels at all 15 dams in the state.

Abdul Rashi said that the seeding operations would be carried out over 10 days to increase the water levels by 10 per cent to 30 per cent. The cloud seeding began on Tuesday.

"We are hoping the water levels can be raised above critical level with the cloud seeding," he told a press conference yesterday, adding that the seeding had proved fruitful with rain over the dams.

He also said the last time cloud seeding was carried out in the state was in 2010 and the heavy year-end downpour in the following years was able to keep water in the dam at healthy levels.

"If cloud seeding is not carried out now, we foresee problems soon as the dams have only about 40 per cent to 60 per cent of water now," added Abdul Rashid.

Each three-hour cloud seeding process costs about RM30,000 (S$11,000) and the state is planning to make 10 attempts.

The cloud seeding operations is led by Bakaj and jointly carried out with the National Security Council, Johor Meteorological Department, Syarikat Air Johor (SAJ) and National Water Services Commission (SPAN).