malaysia

After deadly floods, engineers urge focus on climate change

Earlier today, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku said Penang’s current flood mitigation was outdated. — Picture by Miera ZulyanaEarlier today, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku said Penang’s current flood mitigation was outdated. — Picture by Miera ZulyanaKUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — The Institution of Engineers (IEM) urged Putrajaya today to shift its attention to climate change, after Penang and Kedah experienced extraordinary rainfall that caused deadly floods in several parts of the states over the weekend.

Noting that many places in Malaysia were already experiencing rainfall exceeding the 100-year Average Recurrence Interval (ARI), IEM president Tan Yean Chin said the focus on climate must be considered by “various parties”.

“The climatic change factor should be considered in all the development and flood mitigation measures by assessing its impact and how resilient we are in facing the changes.

“The National Hydraulic Research Institute Malaysia (Nahrim) Technical Guide on ‘Estimation of Future Design Rainstorm under the Climate Change Scenario in Peninsular Malaysia’ is a good reference for adoption,” he said in a statement.

The capacity at most river and drain systems in Penang and Kedah, Tan said, is less than 100-year ARI.

Moving forward, Tan proposed for Putrajaya to implement a comprehensive and integrated flood mitigation masterplan to cater for the development planning in both the affected states.

The master plan, he said, should include the flood mitigation and prevention action plans for current and future developments, land use changes as well as climatic change factor.

“IEM through its Water Resources Technical Division is most willing to assist the authorities to provide the necessary technical advice on flood mitigation and prevention measures including creating public awareness on flood related issues,” he said.

Earlier today, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku said Penang’s current flood mitigation was outdated.

He said the existing drainage system could not cope with the rapid development taking place within the state, especially on the island, as land scarcity makes it harder to improve sewerage, like building a reservoir.

Wan Junaidi asserted that Penang’s sewerage and irrigation system is two to three decades old and was planned without anticipating the effects of climate change.

Over half of Penang was submerged in flood waters following heavy downpour that averaged more than 250mm in just 24 hours. That amounts to 60mm of heavy rain an hour, according to official data.

Thousands of people in Penang, Kedah and Perak have been affected after the abnormal rainfall over the weekend. Seven people have since died in Penang.

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