JOHOR BAHRU: The low water level situation at major dams in Johor is improving, said a state executive council member on Wednesday (Apr 24), adding that things are expected to be back to normal in six weeks when more rain is expected.
When contacted by CNA, Johor International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee Chairman Jimmy Puah said the present situation is not as bad as compared to last month.
“Although the water level at Sungai Lebam dam is way below the critical level now, actually it is improving … compared to several weeks ago,” he said.
“Yes, the level is rising a bit slowly and that is because at the moment, the eastern part of the state is still receiving less rain compared to western and central Johor.”
Over the weekend, it was reported that water levels at three Johor dams that supply raw water to treatment plants have fallen below the critical mark due to hot weather. The water level at the Lebam dam was at 15.9 per cent as of last Thursday, while the Upper Layang dam was at 21.8 per cent and the Pulai 2 dam at 36.1 per cent.
Mr Puah said with the inter-monsoon season kicking in, more rain is expected. In this regard the current problem of low water levels at the three dams is manageable, he said.
He said in a worst-case scenario, the state government can transfer water to Sungai Lebam dam, in Kota Tinggi from Sungai Seluyut dam, also in the same area.
“Both dams are connected and we already transferred about 30 million gallons from Sungai Seluyut in early April, otherwise Sungai Lebam dam would be dry,” he said.
Sungai Lebam dam supplies water to about 100,000 residents in Kota Tinggi, Tanjung Balau, Teluk Ramunia, Pengerang and Bandar Penawar.
FELDA SETTLERS CRY FOUL OVER WATER CUTS
The dry season which just ended has caused chaos, especially in Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) settlements around Kota Tinggi, such as Simpang Waha, Bukit Waha, Bukit Easter and Lok Heng Timur.
Last month, the settlers had to contend with water cut for two weeks followed by scheduled water supply for another two weeks.
Frustrated settlers claimed that their water supply from Lok Heng dam had been transferred to Sungai Lebam dam, so that the latter can service developing areas such as Bandar Penawar.
Ms Nurul Lailee Mohd Seth, 30, a FELDA Lok Heng Timur resident, said for the last three years, residents in the area had to deal with water rationing every dry season. However, last month was the worst, she said.
“What’s regrettable is the water cut was a week earlier than the notice given by Ranhill SAJ (the utilities operator) and this caught us off guard.
“Imagine the suffering for those parents with small kids and babies facing two weeks without water and after that we only get the supply for a few hours every alternate day,” she said.
She added: “As Sungai Lebam dam supplies water to developing areas (such as Bandar Penawar), of course we in the rural area might suffer if they took our supply to cater to the needs over there.”
A resident in FELDA Bukit Easter who only wanted to be known as Din, said schools in the area had advised pupils to bring along a bottle every day, in case they had to answer the call of nature.
“Just imagine the smell of the toilet as there is no water to clean it,” he added.
“Since I moved here in 1996, water supply has been affected especially during the festive seasons like Eid al-Fitr and Chinese New Year. I was told all the FELDA settlements in this area suffered the same problem,” he said.
When asked to comment on the issues faced by the settlers, Mr Puah stated that no water was transferred from Lok Heng to Sungai Lebam.
“No such thing. Both dams are not connected, so there is no way to transfer the water from Lok Heng to Sungai Lebam,” he said.
Mr Puah said he was aware that the settlers faced water problems during the festive seasons, due to low water pressure.
“During that time, the usage increased by more than 50 per cent as families gathered for the festive season. We cannot raise the water pressure too high as the pipe might burst and cause more problems,” he added.