Now drought threat looms

Nowdrought threat looms

7 February 2007

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Petaling Jaya, Malaysia — Malaysians have barelyrecovered from the recent floods and the authorities are now warning the peopleto brace themselves for a possible drought. 

With the expected prolonged hot and dry weather, the country is also on highalert for peat and bush fire, with Muadzam and Tebu Hitam in Pahang, and BatangBerjuntai in Selangor, identified as potential hot spots. 

The hot spell that is synonymous with the Chinese New Year period is merely aprecursor to an even longer hot and dry spell due next month when the El Ninophenomenon hits Malaysia.  

This is because the monsoon that lashes the country during the early part ofevery year will then reach Indonesia, leaving less moisture here, saidMeteorological Services Department director-general Dr Yap Kok Seng. 

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), the Drainage and IrrigationDepartment (DID), and the Department of Environment (DOE) have also warned thepublic to start conserving water. 

DID director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah said the country’s dams hadenough water to last three months should there be no rain at all. 

“This in itself is quite good if we have to face such a situation wherethere is no inflow from the rivers for three months.  

“Even if we are looking at a drought, and if we were in the middle of one,there will be ground water to provide some inflow,” he said yesterday. 

Keizrul said the extreme drought in 1997 had always been used as a benchmark. 

“Going by that experience, it was a matter of people reacting only when thesituation was really bad. People were not saving water then (during the drought),”he said. 

This time, instead of waiting for the dams to run out of water, conservationmeasures would be put in place much earlier, he said. 

Selangor DOE director Che Asmah Ibrahim said the department had startedsurveillance for those who carried out open burning. 

Syabas officials said that the public could now start to save rainwater anduse pails when washing the car or watering plants instead of the hose.  

Meanwhile, the state co-owners of Klang Valley’s main water supplier havemet with the Government to discuss exploring alternative sources of the preciouscommodity in an attempt to avert the possibility of a water crisis in case ofdrought, SIM LEOI LEOI reports. 

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said inPutrajaya that it was decided that there were good prospects for scouting forunderground water. 

“This will help mitigate any dry season that may hit the Klang Valley inthe months to come. 

“My ministry is aware of the warning for drought. But at present, there isenough water and enough storage capacity,” he said. 

Syabas, apart from monitoring the water level of dams, has allocated 485static tanks and 65 tankers in case taps run dry, Bernama reports. 

Chief executive officer Ruslan Hassan said Syabas had even collaborated withthe Selangor government to identify several lakes in the Klang Valley wherewater could be used during an extended dry spell.

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