PUTRAJAYA: Water shortage is expected in six Malaysian states due to the extreme hot weather, said Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar on Saturday (Mar 23) as he warned that water rationing is needed.
The six states are Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan.
"Water provision ... including for daily living, industries and farming, especially for rice farmers, need to be managed through rationing or rescheduling of rice planting," said Dr Xavier.
He added that three dams - one in Kedah and two in Johor - currently have water storage capacities of about 50 per cent. The Bukit Kwong Dam in Kelantan, meanwhile, has a water storage capacity of about 37 per cent.
Parts of Malaysia have been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures forecast to hit as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
Some areas have had no rain for weeks, including Setiu in Terengganu (31 days) and Hulu Perak (56 days), according to Dr Xavier.
He added that other areas in Kedah, Pahang and Terengganu are under the "dangerous" category as their cumulative rainfall has fallen below the hot and dry season records.
Apart from Terengganu, the other five states are expecting rainfall of 25 per cent below the annual average through April and May.
"This situation will cause hot and dry weather, and decrease water sources from rivers and dams in those states," said Dr Xavier.
Water supply to rice farms from Sungai Muda, Sungai Kedah and Sungai Melaka are expected to fall short during peak farming usage in March and April, in which case more water will need to be released from existing dams, he added.
"JPS (Department of Irrigation and Drainage) advises state authorities to take action by prudently releasing water from the dams involved."
The hot and dry weather also caused fire in 297 hectares of peat swamps in Setiu, Terrengganu. The fire, which started on Wednesday, was extinguished by firefighters on Saturday, a Terengganu fire department spokesman told Bernama.