Tuesday, August 3

‘Ministry to brief State Cabinet on HEP dams as water source’


Dr Stephen Rundi Utom

KUCHING: Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom says his ministry is ready to brief the State Cabinet on the usage of hydro electric power (HEP) dams as source of water.

“It’s already in our long term masterplan for state water grid, and the preliminary consultant report was briefed to my ministry last month before we present it to the cabinet,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing meanwhile said the move to use the HEP lake reservoirs as the source of water is appropriate as it has been done in several countries.

“In other parts of the world, hydro electric dam is for multi uses. It is used for generation of electricity, irrigation, flood mitigation and transportation.

“The best example of HEP multi uses is China’s Three Gorges dams,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

“There is no reason why Sarawak cannot use its dams for water supply and irrigation. However, we must tap the reservoir water below the dam so as not to reduce the water volume for the generation of electricity,” he pointed out, adding the Bakun, Murum, Baleh and Batang Ai HEP dams could be used for such purposes.

“In Sarawak where water is in abundance there is no reason why parts of Sarawak especially the coastal areas are crying for water. What is needed is proper planning so reservoir water can be transferred to coastal areas where water sources are scarce,” he pointed out.

Masing was responding to a public query, when ironically tap water in Kapit was murky for the last two days. The situation was resolved yesterday when the Rural Water Supply Department took remedial action by first flushing the murky water at the treatment plant.

The suggestion to source water from HEP dams was first mentioned by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on May 5, 2017 at a political function here.

He had said then a long-term solution to the water woes in Sarawak would be the usage of reservoirs of hydro electric power (HEP) dams as water sources.

Water pollution and/or salty water from rivers are hard to control but the control of water from dams can be assured, he had noted. He said the state cabinet had agreed to appoint a consultant to do an overall study on the matter.

The idea is to pump water from the reservoirs of HEP dams in Batang Ai, Bakun, Baleh and Murum to the water treatment plants, and Sarawak has so many dams which definitely can be sources of water for the people, he added.