Monday, July 4

‘Low water level not caused by the filling of Bakun Dam’


SIBU: The impoundment of water for Bakun Hydroelectric Dam did not cause the level downstream to reach record low and disrupt river travel.

DRY RIVER BED: A man in a sampan in Sungai Kanowit (a tributary of the Rajang) lays a plank on the river bed for walking to the bank.

Divisional engineer of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Ting Sing Kwong, told The Borneo Post yesterday that there had been really bad droughts even before the building of the dam.

Although the worst has not happened, he said his department was keeping a close watch on the river and checking the daily water level in the morning and afternoon.

“The water level readings have remained the same in most places over the last few days.”

In Song, for example, he said the reading was 3.35 metres above sea level on Monday morning. On Tuesday morning, it reached 4.05 metres.

In Julau, it was 1.80 metres on Monday morning and at 2.30am on Tuesday.

In Sibu, it was 0.09 metres on Monday morning and 0.47 metres on Tuesday morning.

Belaga had 35.48 metres on Tuesday morning.

“On Monday morning, it was 36.57 metres. In Kapit, it was at 3.62 metres on Monday afternoon, and on Tuesday morning, it was 3.40 metres.”

It is low tide the last few days in the morning.

Ting said they had received feedback from residents in upper Rajang.

“They’ve confirmed that the water level has not reached the lowest in history.”

In Sibu, the water board is also monitoring the water level closely.

Its general manager, Daniel Wong Park Ing, said there was no problem at all in water treatment and the pumping of river water for the purpose.

He confirmed that the salty sea water had not seeped in to the point where they drew water.

“Water usage has slightly increased in the current drought, but we can cope.”

Wong called on consumers not to worry about the water supply although the water level was low now.

“The level might be low, but it has not reached a critical point.”

He said the water level in Rajang River had never reached such a critical level before, and their drawing of water had always been a smooth process.

What if the water level reaches the warning level? Wong asked the consumers not to worry if it happened.

“We can switch the pump off for a few hours. We have a reservoir large enough to supply the water at such crucial moment.”

He said after a few hours, the water level would rise during high tide, and they could start pumping again.

“But I must stress that the critical moment has never happened. Not even in the current situation and not even when the reading of the river water level was at the lowest point before.”

There has been rain on some days in Central Sarawak but that has not been sufficient enough to raise the river water level.