Saturday, August 08, 2009

News: Sarikei Water Rationing

Hot, hot, hot!!! Hot on the heels of the haze attack is another problem for Sarikei. Hot weather, not enough rain and now water rationing has started! Let the queue begin.

Below is Borneo Post's article (Friday, 7 August 2009)

Cloud seeding to start Monday: Dr Chan
By Samuel Aubrey

KUCHING: Sarawak will be carrying out cloud seeding next Monday in efforts to induce rain, thus increase the capacity in water catchment areas in the state which are now running low.

There has not been any rain recorded in Sarawak in the last two weeks, and the stock of water is now very low at Sungai Sarawak Kiri in Kuching and Gerugu Dam in Sarikei.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan said he was keeping his fingers crossed for next Monday’s cloud seeding to bear fruit even though the weather condition looks favourable.

The cloud seeding, utilising the latest technology of letting off flares which is said to have higher success rate in inducing rain, is expected to cost RM18,000 with the flares alone costing about RM8,000.

“This is expensive, but we will find money to do this because we need to have rain. Gerugu Dam in Sarikei only has enough water for the next 14 days, while Kuching Water Board has reported to me that the capacity at the catchment area at Sungai Sarawak Kiri is very low,” he told reporters yesterday.

Dr Chan, who is also State Disaster Relief Committee chairman, said if the cloud seeding fails in Kuching, the relevant authorities might have to start water rationing in this division.

He added that water rationing had already started in Simunjan, and will begin today in Sarikei division.

The water rationing exercise, he added, would involve 500 tankers from the state Public Works Department (JKR) with total capacity of nearly 400,000 gallons or two million litres of water.

He said for now, he would like to advise the public to conserve water.

On the Gerugu Dam in Sarikei, he said it was a vital water catchment area not only for the division but also neighbouring Mukah.

He said water from Gerugu also went to Boyang water treatment plant which supplies water to Belawai and Tanjung Manis.

According to him, JKR is now doing its best to send water relief to Beladin and Pulau Bruit, areas badly affected by the drought - apart from Belawai.

The current dry spell in Sarawak is said to be caused by El Nino, causing rainfall to drop 20 to 40 per cent below normal while the present dry weather could go on until end of September or early October.

The temperature in Sarawak had also gone up to 35 to 36 degrees Celsius, whereas normally the temperature is up to 33 degrees Celsius.

Apart from drought, El Nino is bringing the haze which now causes air quality to deteriorate all over Sarawak.

Dr Chan however believes that this year’s El Nino would not be as extreme as the one experienced in 1997, when Sarawak declared a state of emergency after the air pollutant index reading breached the hazardous level.

“What we are having now is mild to moderate El Nino, and it will not be as extreme as the one in 1997,” he said.

He added that the state had also banned open burning, especially by plantations. However, the same ruling will not apply to local farmers practising shifting cultivation because they usually involve small plots of land and the fires go out very quickly.

To a question, he did not dismiss the possibility that some of the forest fires were due to open burning in plantations.

On the link between pandemic diseases and the haze, he said he did not think there was a link.

Asked on the occurrence of the Coxsackie outbreak during the 1997 haze; hand, foot and mouth diseases (HFMD) in 2008; and haze and the Influenza A (H1N1) this year, he said: “I don’t think there is a connection.”

Yesterday’s press conference was also attended by State Meteorological Services director Wong Teck Kiong, State JKR deputy director Safri Zainuddin and State Health deputy director Dr Faizul Manso

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