Penang risks water crisis, too

6 December 2010

The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is also in for a water crisis if it does not find an additional source within five years, the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) has cautioned.

The department’s Water Resources and Hydrology division director Hanapi Mohamad Noor said demand for raw water in Penang and Kedah was expected to exceed Sungai Muda’s capacity by 2015.

“Penang draws 80% of its raw water for domestic and industrial use from Sungai Muda and 90% from the same river for the irrigation of 10,000ha of paddy fields in Seberang Prai.

“It is very risky if the state continues to just depend on one source, especially with the demand for water in Kedah also increasing,” he said, adding that Kedah held the advantage as it controlled the upper catchment.

Speaking to reporters after closing the year-long Nega-Litres (negative litres) pilot project featuring the harvesting of rainwater for common area usage at the N-Park Condominium in Batu Uban yesterday, Hanapi said demand for water in Penang this year was at 344 million cubic metres for domestic and industrial use, and 358 million cubic metres for irrigation of paddy fields.

While demand for irrigation was expected to remain the same, he said demand for domestic and industrial use was projected to increase by over 9% in 2015 to 375 million cubic metres and by over 18% in 2020 to 406 million cubic metres.

On water treatment plants, Hanapi said Penang’s six dams and reservoirs in Air Itam, Mengkuang, Teluk Bahang, Bukit Panchor, Cherok Tok Kun and Berapit had sufficient capacity but stressed that the state would face a deficit if it depended on just the rain.

“The consumption of water in Penang is high at 288 litres per capita per day, and the state has the lowest water tariff in the country.

“In comparison, look at Singa-pore where the per capita per day is only 150 litres,” he said.