Malaysian govt may be forced to declare water emergency

A coffee shop worker preparing more sweetened water due to the water rationing exercise.

KUALA LUMPUR - A water emergency can be declared as early as in three weeks if the weather does not improve.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said: "If it does not rain this three weeks, then I think the National Security Council, which is studying the whole situation, will have to declare a water emergency."

"We are all praying for rain. If it does not, it is going to be really bad," he said yesterday.

Dr Ongkili said water levels had decreased mainly due to the prolonged dry spell.

The Sungai Selangor Dam - the state's largest reservoir - recorded a 40.53 per cent capacity as of 8am yesterday.

LUAS, the Selangor Water Management Authority, said on its website that the dam - which serves more than 60 per cent of the 7.1 million people in the Klang Valley and Selangor - was at 40.99 per cent capacity at the same time on Wednesday.

This was consistent with the Selangor government's statement in early February that water in the dam was decreasing by 0.4 per cent every day due to a heatwave in the peninsula lasting several weeks and lack of rain in water catchment areas.

The levels at the other dams were 51.44 per cent (at Klang Gates) 90.72 per cent (Batu), 61.53 per cent (Langat), 77.49 per cent (Semenyih), 71.22 per cent (Sungai Tinggi) and 91.63 per cent (Tasik Subang).

Sources had reportedly said water levels at dams would be deemed critical if they were below 40 per cent.

However, LUAS director Md Khairi Selamat disagreed, saying the critical level was 30 per cent.

"If it continues like this, that is if it doesn't rain at all, we have about 30 days before it (Sungai Selangor Dam) reaches critical level," he told The Star.

Selangor is going through a third phase of rationing, which according to SPAN, the National Water Services Commission, affects 722,032 households comprising about 3.6 million people.

They get their supply every two days under the "scheduled distribution" exercise.

Brief rainfall in certain parts of the state has barely helped to increase water levels.

Cloud seeding has been put on hold indefinitely as aircraft meant for this have been deployed to aid the search for the missing flight MH370.

In Johor, thousands of households will be forced to rely on water tankers because rivers have dried up.

According to SPAN, the Sembrong Timur water treatment plant serving the Kluang district can now only produce less than 0.4 million litres per day, as opposed to the normal 31 million litres.

In Mersing, the Congok Dam has reached 4.47m - just above the critical level of 4.5m - forcing a two-day on and two-day off water rationing for 6,418 households in the district.