Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Expanding Mengkuang Dam - Is it environmentally wise? (Part I)

Another project is on the pipeline. Expanding a dam 4 times the size of the present Mengkuang Dam. Will it be another white elephant?

If you look down from a plane over Bukit Mertajam, you will notice that the hills around Mengkuang Dam are relatively low. Could they provide enough water to fill up the extra large dam?


The picture below was taken on 4th April 2007. It was quite full because for the past few months, it has been raining heavily around the dam. But until early 2007, the dam had been very low.
To prove that there are not enough water to feed the dam, I organised a hike on 12 May 07. These were my findings:

1. There are 12 streams - several are seasonal.
2. Fishing, rubbish and camping at Mengkuang Dam.
3. Illegal immigrants and occupants in catchment area.

4. Illegal trees cutting and harvesting of bamboo.
5. Farmers staying in catchment area.
6. Rich in fauna and flora.


In this report, I will show the 12 streams below:
All the streams were numbered from anti-clockwise.1st Stream - this stream could be flowing from a house above the slope. It flows under the road to the dam.

2nd Stream. This is the only sensible large stream - not even capable of naming it as river.

3rd Stream. This could be a seasonal stream.

4th Stream. Durians and other fruiting trees were found in the catchment area. Fertilizer could be flowing into the dam.
5th Stream. Found on the motorized path. Difinately a seasonal stream.


6th Stream. Barren and hardly any water under a wooden bridge. Rain water just rush down.


7th Stream. Tickling water during this raining days. No water during drought.



8th Stream. The illegal immigrants' huts were near this small stream. Pipe was seen diverting the water to the huts.


9th Stream. This stream flows direct into the dam from huge boulder.



10th Stream. This was the sensible clean stream that flow the whole year. Even the kayak rowers knew about this stream and they frequent this stream to bathe.


11th Stream. This stream was tapped upstream to supply water to another second group of illegal immigrants. (1.5km away from the first group)

12th Stream. It was dry on our visit. I believe it is only flowing when it rains.

Conclusion:

With little water to feed the dam, enlarging the dam doesn't make any sense. But according to the CM, water from Muda River will be pumped to fill Mengkuang Dam. Water from Muda River is filled with silt and eventually, the large Mengkuang Dam will get shallower and the carrying capacity will be back to square one.

There is no point acquiring land for catchment and dam building if farmers and illegals are free to occupy them.

There are some big trees and interesting fauna found in the catchment area. We saw a group of butterflies and interesting bird life in the area too.

In my next issue, I will show case some interesting findings worth protecting.

So, do you think enlarging this dam is neccessary? BTW, in Calcutta, the Indians store their water in huge water tanks as large as several football fields. No silting, no evaporation and no loss of water through the ground. Can we follow them to build tanks?

1 comment:

Dan said...

I'm so impressed with your work here .... and I must say I think that spending 700M to make it 4 times bigger is not a good idea at all. 12 little streams feeding a dam 4 times bigger than now? Water from muda? Haha .. 笑话(xiao hua). So who is going to get the 10% this time .. hahaha