Sarawak hit by haze, forest fires and now water critical at Mukah, Sri Aman

Sulok Tawie

Firemen are seen dousing fire in a peat swamp at Pulau Bruit in Mukah, August 13, 2019. — Picture courtesy of the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department

KUCHING, Aug 13 — Hit by drought and forest fires, Malaysians in the country’s largest state have been asked to conserve usage of water as supply is critical in Mukah and Sri Aman districts.

The Sarawak Ministry of Utilities said the prolonged dry spell and peat soil fires in Mukah have disrupted the water supply to Kampung Penipah, KampungTekajong and Kampung Bruit.

“The underground peat soil fires burnt some stretches of the HDPE pipe causing severe leakages,” it said in a statement, referring to a kind of flexible high-density polyethylene used for pipes.

The state ministry said the Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB) have not been able to reach the site of the pipe burst to assess the extent of the damage nor undertake its repair due to thick smoke and heat from the forest and peat soil fires in the district.

The ministry added that water supply in the surrounding areas has also been reduced due to low water levels in Sri Aman district.

It said the current water level at the Bayai Water Intake is at a critical level. 

The JBALB is carrying out dredging works at the water intake areas to alleviate the low water production, the ministry said, adding that it is monitoring the situation closely.

The ministry said JBALB has also issued early notice of the prolonged dry spells potentially affecting the water supply to the consumers in Sri Aman district.

JBALB water trucks will be dispatched to deliver water to affected areas immediately.

In a separate statement, the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department said about 416 hectares have been ravaged by wildfires since August 1.

Its spokesman said firefighters are still fighting to contain the spread of peat swamp fires in Kuala Baram in Miri, which has so far ravaged about 70 hectares.

As at 6pm, the air pollutant index at SK Kuala Baram station was recorded at 264 while at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Miri station registered 334.

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