Massive water crisis threatens Malaysia

The Star/ANN

PETALING JAYA: First, the prolonged dry spell, and now a potentially massive water crisis ahead as the country faces the full impact of El Nino.

The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) has raised the alarm bells, warning that not enough was being done to conserve water.

Rivers are drying up and dam levels are dropping acutely by the day.

SPAN chief executive Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said urgent measures were needed to remind the public to stop wasting and start conserving water.

The prolonged hot and dry spell is impacting different parts of the country in different ways.

The worst hit will be 85,000 domestic and industrial consumers in parts of Johor when rationing starts on Monday.

Output from four water treatment plants in the Kota Tinggi and Mersing districts have reached critical levels.

During the exercise, water supply will run normally for one day in the affected areas while there will be no water supply for the next two days.

In Pahang, Pengurusan Air Pahang Bhd (PAIP) said there was a need to start looking for alternative sources of water, including from wells.

This comes after the water level at rivers in Pahang dropped drastically, making it difficult for treatment plants in three districts to get raw water.

More than 7,000 account holders in Lipis, Pekan and Temerloh are facing supply disruptions.

Read also: Water rationing in Johor begins on Monday

In Malacca, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said the state will have to consider water rationing if the dry spell continues.

For now, there is enough water in all three major dams.

Up north, near the Perak-Thai border, an entire lake has all but "disappeared".

The man-made Tasik Takong, in the Takong Recreational Park, used to be popular spot for anglers, picnickers and tourists.

In Rantau Panjang, Sungai Golok which divides Kelantan and Thailand is now easier to cross without the need for any travel documents.

Dry weather has turned the river into a stream and some parts of the river can be walked across.

In Kangar, cows were seen grazing in the Timah Tasoh Dam which saw water levels dipping below the critical level.

A village road submerged when the dam was built over two decades ago is now usable again.

In Sabah, villagers on Banggi Island have resorted to digging into dry riverbeds while others are relying on wells and springs which are also drying up.

Penang's state-owned water corporation - PBA Holdings Bhd - urged the Federal Government to instruct all water authorities to stop irrigation of padi fields, especially in the northern region, until the rains return.

PBA Holdings chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said the extraordinary move was needed to counter the effects of what he described as a "super drought".

Jaseni said the water of the Muda River in Kedah was too precious to be used in the thousands of hectares of padi fields in Kedah and Penang.