Cloud seeding ops to begin in Malaysia

Cracking up A water catchment area next to the Gangsa river in Malacca is all dried up due to the persistent hot weather. When there is heavy rain and water overflows from the river, it pours into this water catchment area.

PETALING JAYA - Cloud seeding is expected to take place from next Tuesday over water catchment areas in four states hit hard by the dry weather.

Meteorological Department senior meteorologist Azhar Ishak confirmed that the cloud seeding exercise was likely to occur over catchment areas of dams in Selangor, Johor, Malacca and Negri Sembilan from Feb 25 or 26 onwards.

"It's not certain, but there's a good chance that cloud seeding will be done on those days," he said, adding that the seeding was dependent on suitable weather conditions.

He said that up to this point, it had not rained in dam catchment areas but in isolated areas instead.

Azhar said the Royal Air Force would take charge of cloud seeding operations once weather conditions permitted, adding that the material used for the operation was safe and that ordinary salt would be used to seed the clouds.

In a related matter, water levels at dams across Selangor were reduced, with the Sungai Selangor Dam - the state's largest - the hardest hit, at 51.39 per cent capacity Friday morning.

The dam, which serves 60 per cent of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur's water needs, recorded 57.63 per cent capacity on Feb 12. Other dams' capacity yesterday were: Tasik Subang (96.26 per cent), Sungai Tinggi (80.68 per cent), Semenyih (89.06 per cent), Langat (76.10 per cent), Klang Gates (55.22 per cent), Batu (91.69 per cent).

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) said consumer water usage had not dropped despite warnings that resources were depleting.

Its corporate communications and public affairs assistant general manager Priscilla Alfred said there was barely enough treated water in Selangor's pipes for everyone.

"We have a water reserve margin of 0.73 per cent of the total supply," she said.

Malaysian Water Association president Syed Mohamed Alhabshi said there needed to be a minimum reserve margin of 10 per cent, calling it a "security of supply".

"If you have that kind of margin, then if a treatment plant shuts down, other plants can help send water," he said.

He said the construction of the Langat 2 treatment plant, along with raw water from Pahang, would help to increase the buffer up to 10 per cent

Two water treatment plants have shut down due to high levels of ammonia in the Langat river, affecting 27,000 households.

A further 83,000 households are facing low water pressure and service disruptions due to high water use in the state.

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