JOHOR BAHRU: Water levels at two major dams in Johor state are hovering around the critical point, as parts of Malaysia experience a heatwave.
On Tuesday (Feb 26), residents around Kota Tinggi, Johor were advised to use water sparingly as the water level at the nearby Sungai Lebam Dam dipped almost two metres below the critical level.
Johor International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said the normal water-level for the dam was 14m, while the critical level is 12.7m. The current reading is 10.9m.
"The current hot and dry spell is a cause of concern to the Johor government. We do not want any water supply problems here (in Kota Tinggi) as there are about 100,000 residents in areas like Pengerang, Teluk Ramunia, Air Tawar and Tanjung Balau,” he said, adding there was sufficient water supply in the dam for about 70 days.
Additionally, Mr Puah said Lok Heng Dam in the area was showing a water reserve-level of two metres. This is just 50cm above the critical level.
"The supply can only last for 21 days and if it continues to decline, it will affect about 20,000 residents,” he said. The state government is digging three tube wells in the area near the dam as a back-up plan, he added.
LEVEL 1 HEATWAVE ALERT MAINTAINED FOR 8 AREAS
Malaysia is currently at the tail end of the North-East Monsoon, which is expected to last until end of March. During this period, there would be no rain or very little rainfall, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia).
On Tuesday, MetMalaysia maintained Level 1 heatwave alerts for eight areas in peninsula Malaysia, mainly in the northern states of Perlis, Kedah and Perak.
This was a drop from the weekend, when Level 1 alerts were issued for 10 areas.
The alerts were issued after maximum temperatures of between 35 and 37 degrees Celsius for three consecutive days.
A Level 2 alert will be issued when the maximum temperature exceeds 37 degrees Celsius for three consecutive days.
A Level 3 alert will be declared when temperature exceeds 40 degree Celsius for three consecutive days. This would allow the federal government to declare a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, it was reported on Wednesday that Sabah has only two months of water supply remaining.
State Water Department director Amarjit Singh told the New Straits Times that while water reserves at major dams are at 80 per cent, the supplies are not being replenished due to the depleted rivers.
In Kelantan, the authorities advised the public to avoid open burning during the hot and dry period.
This will prevent the fire from getting out of control and causing air pollution, Fire and Rescue Department Director Nazili Mahmood was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
Over in Terengganu, the Education Department has instructed all 503 schools in the state to take proactive measures due to the current dry spell.
Mr Shafruddin Ali Hussin, the director of the department said for track and field events, adequate drinking water, water barrels and sponges should be provided. Emergency relief teams should also be on standby, he said.
“Most importantly, every student participating in track and field events must obtain permission from their parents and guardians.
“Schools are also encouraged to increase indoor activities and reduce outdoor programmes,” he added on Tuesday.