The dry season has caused the water levels at the Air Itam dam and Bukit Dumbar reservoirs to drop to an alert level of 38.5%, said the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP).
With this, PBAPP urged consumers to use water wisely and conserve water for April and May.
PBAPP said the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam was at 89.3% on 1 January this year before dropping by 50.8% due to low rainfall in the dam’s water catchment area.
PBAPP said the secondary cause of the drop in water levels is the high daily usage in the Air Itam township and surrounding areas.
It added that unfortunately, the only way to replenish the reserves of the Air Itam dam is to wait for seasonal rainfall or to induce rainfall via cloud seeding.
Apart from the Air Itam dam, PBAPP said the Bukit Dumbar reservoirs are seeing low levels.
PBAPP explained that their records showed the water usage by consumers in the state was high for the past 3 months. On 31 March, metered water consumption was almost 900 million litres per day (MLD), as compared to the average of 860 MLD in 2021.
PBAPP also said water pumped from the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant in Seberang Perai to the Bukit Dumbar Reservoir on Penang island daily, via 3 sets of twin submarine pipelines, is being drawn down fast.
It added that water demands in the southern parts of the island are also significantly high.
Since the treated water levels are low at the Bukit Dumbar reservoirs, PBAPP cannot pump water at adequate pressures to all end-of-line (EOL) and higher ground areas. The water pumps will trip or shut down automatically as well as risk being damaged.
As a temporarily solution, PBAPP is ramping up treated water production at all 9 water treatments plants in Penang and increasing treated water production at the Air Itam WTP, Guillemard WTP and Batu Ferringhi WTP to support a gradual build-up of treated water reserves in the Bukit Dumbar reservoirs.
PBAPP has also since installed taps at fire hydrants to provide water supply to the Bukit Gedung residents. Due to low water pressure, the water supply can now only reach the ground floor and first floor of several blocks.
PBAPP has also advised building management corporations to install residential pumping systems at EOL or higher ground areas to mitigate issues of low water pressure during dry seasons.