Posted: 07 Feb 2011 06:06 AM PST
Feb 6, 11 3:06pm
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An untold number of houses and commercial and industrial property are inundated by floodwaters in Johor, leading many quarters to voice the question staring authorities in the face - where are the flood mitigation projects?
According to Johor opposition leader and DAP's Skudai state assemblyperson Dr Boo Cheng Hau who made his rounds to flood victims in Ledang and Muar districts today, as much as RM3 billion to 10 billion could have beenlost as a result of the floodwaters that have submerged much of the south over the past few weeks.
Losses suffered by households themselves could be as high as RM2 billion, while the rest have been borne by the commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors, said Dr Boo in a statement.
"The recent big flood has devastating effect on people's lives. The federal and state governments have to take immediate actions to mitigate floods," he said.
As an immediate meaurs, Dr Boo urged the government to order a halt of all activities that lead to deforestration process.
In the longer term, forest reserves amounting should be gazetted, proper management of agricultural and commercial land use should be enforced, and water dams built along the Segamat, Muar and Johor rivers.
Even if such efforts are undertaken, Dr Boo lamented that the restoration and revival of the environment due to the degradation that has occurred will take 30 years before the results can be seen.
Coming soon: 'Extreme drought, floods'
In a related development, the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) has warned that given the "extreme drought and flood"expected to increasingly hit Malaysia due to global climate change, the government must take serious steps towards an early flood detection and warning system and on flood mitigation.
Even a 10 percent increase in rainfall intensity will raise flood occurrence tremendously due to increase in surface run-off and reduction in carrying capacity of both natural and man-made drainage, said Awer president S Piarapakaran.
Rather than rushing into the start of projects, however, careful research must be made to ensure the steps taken are effective and efficient, said Piarapakaran.
This includes a careful analysis of the relation between loss of forest cover and flood occurrence.
"There is a definite link as lost of forest cover causes loss of natural water retention ability. This will also help to identify downstream areas that will be directly affected during heavy and continuous downpour." Some of the areas in question might not have experienced floods before, he noted.
Redesigning old drainage systems is also vital to prevent drainage failures that have contributed to the occurrence of floods, said Piarapakaran.
"Old settlements and townships have old designs for drainage. With rapid developments around these areas, the carrying capacity of drainage system will (be) reduced."
The government should also make mandatory for new townships new designs to ensure there is a minimum amount of permeable surface as well as retention ponds with bigger capacity.
"Permeable surface will absorb rainwater and reduce surface water flow. Retention ponds will be able to delay surface water flow to drainage systems," he said, adding: "However, retention ponds need periodic maintenance to prevent failure its function."
Piarapakaran also urged that local government land use planning be audited to ensure there is no overdevelopment in low or flat land areas.
"Too much covered lands will cause (a) rise in surface water flow during rainfall," he said in noting the importance of effective and adequate flood prevention plans by local authorities.
All other flood prevention projects that have either been implemented or planned should be audited and subject to period maintenance to ensure they meet the intended targets.
"Therefore, stricter Key Performance Index (KPI) should be set to agencies that carry out such projects to meet good operating conditions."
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