Sarawak Energy to release water from Bakun reservoir on March 9

Bakun Dam - file pic

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, March 8: Sarawak Energy Bhd is conducting its seasonal controlled release of water from the Bakun reservoir from March 9 due to the recent heavy rainfall in the area.

The state power utility provider, in a statement, said when the reservoir level exceeds a certain point, water is released through a spillway specially designed for that purpose.

It explained that the process is a standard practice undertaken by hydropower operators worldwide.

“The controlled procedure ensures water is released at regulated volumes through the gated spillway over a duration of time, to achieve the required level in the reservoir, and to minimise the impact to the downstream regions,” it said.

Nevertheless, over the release period, Sarawak Energy noted that downstream towns are expected to experience minimal rise in river levels.

“The release of water, scheduled for an estimated period of three weeks, will be kept as low as possible, and will cease once the water level at the reservoir normalises.

“The released water is estimated to flow past Kapit town about two days after the release and Sibu town after four days. The rise in river level and intensity of flowing water will reduce as the distance increases,” the statement continued.

On another note, Sarawak Energy outlined that hydropower dams such as Bakun Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) mitigates the impact of heavy rainfall on downstream flow by holding back large volumes of water in its reservoir in addition to generate electricity.

It observed that hydropower dams are capable of mitigating impacts from heavy rainfalls within the upstream catchment, but other factors such as high sea tides, heavy rainfall downstream into catchments and tributaries of the Rejang can still result in floods, unrelated to the scheduled release.

On top of flood mitigation, it believed hydropower dam can also holds river debris within the catchment, making downstream navigation much safer. — DayakDaily