Another Flood Tragedy in Ringlet 2014 about a year from the 2013 flooding:
After the October 2013 flooding the Star carried this article on November 4, 2013...which showed that TNB is fighting a losing battle for a long time against nature, land clearing and logging, haphazard farming methods and rubbish being thrown in the river finding its way to the lake:
There is also another report on November 15, 2013 by Floodlist:
The Cameron Highlands region in west central Malaysia was developed as a ‘hill station’ or high elevation holiday resort/retreat in the 1930’s by colonial officials, following the establishment of an agricultural research station there in 1925. Apart from being a retreat for bureaucrats from the heat of summer in the lowlands, the area was found to be suitable for growing tea and fruit.
Following independence in 1957, the Lake Ringlet reservoir (part of the Sultan Abu Bakar Dam) on the Sundai (River) Bertam was commissioned in 1963 as part of the 262MW Cameron Highlands-Batang Padang Hydro-electric Scheme. The Dam is 39.6m high and impounds water from a 183 square km catchment in the highlands.
The dam, with its four spillways, is one of the oldest in the country. Water from the dam is normally channeled via a tunnel to an underground power station further downstream. In order to protect the river banks that hold the dam wall in place from rapid erosion caused by overtopping of the water, and potential catastrophic failure of the dam, the four spillway doors are designed to open automatically when the water level rises beyond the safety limit. Since this would release a large amount of water into the river below, it is standard operating procedure to open one gate at a time as the water level rises, after sounding warning sirens to alert residents in the valley below the wall. Sequential opening of spillway doors reduces the amount of water being released from the reservoir, in order to reduce the risk of flooding.
In October 2013, flash-flooding in the catchment of the Ringlet reservoir coupled with existing siltation resulted in a rapid rise in the water level, necessitating such a step. Unfortunately, even the controlled release of water resulted in the flooding of 100 houses in the village Kg Bertam Valley on the Sundai Bertam below the dam, and led to the death of four people.
The release of water was implemented according to standard operating procedure, so why did it cause such calamity?
In reality there are a number of contributing factors.
These include a more rapid rise in water level than usual, owing to deforestation,
increasingly intensive agricultural activities and in some cases poorly managed agricultural practices in the dam’s catchment area.
This is coupled with poor land use practices and the encroachment of urban development into the flood plain below the dam.
Siltation and increased run–off has been an ongoing concern at Ringlet for some years. TNB Cameron Highlands Power Stations General Manager Mustafa Hashim has stated that the Ringlet reservoir’s water holding capacity has greatly decreased due to the high volume of rubbish, sand and silt sediment on the lake floor, and that siltation over the years from land clearing in the Cameron Highlands has resulted in the need for a near-continuous de-silting programme. He stated that TNB, the electricity supply authority, had spent some RM80 million (US$25m) worth on dredging sediment material, an operation carried out once every five years. It also spent another RM20 million (US$6.25m) on annual maintenance works. Mustafa, who has been working at the Cameron Highlands since 2011, said the water level in the dam had also risen rapidly due to the presence of the white plastic sheets seen in farms all over Cameron Highlands, adding that these caused the rainwater to flow swiftly into the rivers without first being filtered by the ground.
Read the article in full here.
This what I wrote in my blog on October 25, 2013:
This is a report by Floodlist dated July 11, 2014 a few months before the latest Ringlet flooding in November this year: