GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government and the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) have been told not to use the issue involving the drop in the Air Itam Dam effective capacity and high water demand to justify the increase in the state’s water tariff.
On Saturday, PBAPP had issued an alert for water consumers in the state, particularly those staying in the Air Itam township and surrounding areas, to use water wisely following a drop in the Air Itam Dam effective capacity and high water demand.
This came about after the effective capacities of Penang’s three key dams, as of last Thursday (March 31), were 38.5 per cent for the Air Itam Dam, Teluk Bahang Dam (73.5 per cent) and Mengkuang Dam (91.4 per cent).
Since Jan 1, this year, the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam had dropped by 50.8 per cent to an “alert level” of 38.5 per cent.
Today, the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam dropped further to 36.6 per cent, Teluk Bahang Dam (72.4 per cent) and Mengkuang Dam (91.5 per cent).
Agreeing that the people should use water wisely, state Gerakan spokesman for Air Itam, Eric Woo, said the state government and PBAPP should not utilise the present situation to increase water tariff.
He said the Air Itam Dam had been in used for 60 years, since 1962 until today, with no upgrading works being done to increase the effective capacity storage.
“Over the years, many townships had sprung up, which saw massive increase in population in Air Itam. More developments continue to come up in Air Itam.
“How is it that the Air Itam Dam, built some 60 years ago, able to accommodate the growing population?
“The PBAPP must address this, including alternative water sources. It is not fair for PBAPP to always urge the people to use water wisely when there is a drop in the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam.
“Although PBAPP has been doing many things for water consumers in the state, it has to continue to act more proactively in this issue,” he said at the state Gerakan headquarters here today.
Woo also suggested that the PBAPP restructured the operations of the three key dams to ensure they operative more effectively and efficiently.
“The PBAPP had said that low rainfall amounting to 250mm of rainfall in the Air Itam Dam water catchment area was recorded between in the period between Jan 1 and March 31, this year. It can’t be merry waiting for more rainfall to fill up the dam.
“In fact, Penang had recorded heavy rain frequently, maybe not in Air Itam but in other areas. The PBAPP must channel this excess water to the Air Itam Dam,” he said, adding that the PBAPP could also channel the water from the newly upgraded Mengkuang Dam to the Air Itam Dam to meet the growing demand.
Meanwhile, Woo said residents in several areas in Air Itam had also voiced concerns about underground water leakage, resulting in wastage.
Last month, the PBAPP had said that it would apply for a water tariff review this year, primarily to raise funds for implementing its Raw Water Contingency Plan 2030 (RWCP 2030) projects.
PBAPP had applied for a water tariff review in 2019. However, the Environment and Water minister issued public statements in 2020 and 2021 that the federal government had postponed all water tariff reviews because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Malaysian economy.
The last water tariff review in Penang was implemented in 2015.