‘Stretch’ the raw water reserve of the Air Itam Dam to last for another 120 days


Over 129 days, the effective capacity of this dam dropped by 41.4%, from 82.5% on 1.1.2023 to 41.1% on 9.5.2023. As such, the remaining effective capacity of 41.1% may potentially last another 120 days.


Press statement by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow:

As the Chief Minister of Penang, I am directing Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) to re-strategize their action plans to ensure that the depleting reserves of the Air Itam Dam last until the next rainy season in September 2023.


I believe that PBAPP can do it, due to the following 4 key reasons:


1. This year, the effective capacity of the Air Itam Dam dropped by 41.4% in the 129day period from 1.1.2023 to 9.5.2023. On 9.5.2023, it had an effective capacity of 41.1% which could potentially last for another 120 days until the expected rainy season in September 2023.
2. On 9.5.2023, METMalaysia published a statement announcing that the drier south-west monsoon season will commence from 15.5.2023. However, on 5.5.2023, METMalaysia had also published a statement on its FB page stating that Perlis, Kedah, Penang and North Perak may receive between 50mm and 300mm of rain in June 2023.

Hopefully, there will be some rainfall in the Air ItamDam water catchment area to help sustain the dam’s reserves until September.


3. PBAPP has done a good job in “reducing the supply coverage area” of the Air Itam Dam to encompass the premises of 6,000 water consumers in Air Itam. This means that in May 2023, only about 6,000 water consumers are dependent on treated water that is produced in Air Itam itself, compared to about 28,948 consumers during normal times.

This “adjustment” was done through the strategic pumping of more treated water from the Sungai Dua Water Treatment Plant to reach consumers living in areas surrounding Air Itam. “Reducing the supply coverage area” allows PBAPP tosignificantly minimise daily drawdowns from the Air Itam Dam.


4. Since 1.1.2023, PBAPP had also been implementing other dry weather control engineering measures to minimise drawdowns from the Air Itam Dam. These controls have been gradually tightened as the dam’s effective capacity continued to fall.

PBAPP has the option to further “tighten up” its dry weather control engineering measures. However, the imposition of more stringent controls may affect water supply services.


We do not wish to cause inconveniences for the people and businesses unnecessarily. Hence, PBAPP will only implement more stringent control measures in Penang when it is absolutely necessary; and we will inform the public ahead of time accordingly.


Dam status: “actual effective capacity” vs “days”

Earlier this month, the mass media reported that the raw water reserve of the Air Itam Dam could possibly last only until the end of June 2023. However, the news reports did not state 2 important qualifications:


This “deadline” is based on an average daily drawdown of 22 million litres per day (MLD) from the dam when its effective capacity was 41.5%.However, PBAPP has already minimised daily drawdown to only 15 MLD.
The deadline is also only applicable if there is zero rainfall in the Air Itam Dam water catchment area. Any rainfall may automatically extend or shift the deadline by days, especially if water consumption is lower.

As such, PBAPP would normally focus on “actual effective capacity percentage” and not “potential number of days left” when discussing dam levels.


Cooperation of Air Itam water consumers

It is possible for PBAPP to manage the reserves of the Air Itam Dam to last until the next rainy season while sustaining acceptable water supply services in Air Itam.


Success largely depends on two variable factors: rainfall in the dam water catchment area and daily water consumption in Air Itam.


To significantly increase our likelihood of success, I am seeking the cooperation of the people of Air Itam to kindly use less water. Please lower your water consumption now because the raw water reserve of the Air Itam Dam is low.


Please stop using a hose to water your garden or plants. Avoid using a hose to wash your car or motorcycle. Do not leave your tap running. For more water saving tips, please visit www.pba.com.my.


Please play an active role in helping us to stretch the raw water reserve of the Air Itam Dam to last for another 120 days. Doing so will directly benefit you, your neighbours and community.


Thank You.