Environmentalist Leong Yueh Wong weighs in with what he thinks are the possible causes of the flash floods in Penang on 3 October 2014.
But before that, here are some words of wisdom (author unknown):
Less absorption = MORE runoff
More concretisation = FASTER runoff
+ high tides
+ exceptional rain
+ poor maintainence
= WORSE FLOODS
= WATCH OUT…
Learn to swim,
buy a boat,
And now we have climate change to factor in.
This is an excerpt of a report from the Malaysian Insider:
Weary of arguments, ex-don tells Penang to study cause of floods
BY LOOI SUE-CHERN
Published: 7 October 2014
Friday’s floods at several locations in Penang was caused by both climate change and over-development, said a former ecology, botany and environment lecturer, who called for proper research to find the actual cause of the incident which brought the island to a standstill.
The Penang government has pinned the blame for the floods on climate change while the opposition has said it is because of overdevelopment.
Datuk Dr Leong Yueh Kwong, who was formerly with Universiti Sains Malaysia, weighed in on the issue and said a combination of overdevelopment and climatic events had likely caused the floods and exaggerated the incidents.
He said development which resulted in the felling of natural vegetation and paving concrete over soil would naturally reduce the amount of rain water soaked into the ground.
Increased surface run-off would lead to urban floods, even though a drainage system could partly overcome the problem, he said, on the possible causes of the Friday floods.
“Development can be a reason. In Tanjung Bungah, hills are being cut for new projects, resulting in floods occurring in areas that never saw such incidents before.
“It is also possible that Penang experienced some spill-over effects from the typhoons in the South China Sea,” Leong, advisor to the Penang Malaysia Nature Society, told The Malaysian Insider.
State local government, traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow had pinned the blame on climate change, while Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said it was because of overdevelopment.
Leong said it would help if research was done to determine whether development had caused the amount of surface runoff to increase and lead to floods.
“Until you have all the facts, you can go on arguing,” he said, adding that the authorities should monitor and look into the drainage system, catchment system, and building retention ponds to reduce the amount of water flowing into rivers during heavy downpours.
“We need to look into integrated development… but, up until now, we still do not have the local plan in place,” he said, referring to the Penang Island Local Plan that has been on hold since 2008.
Non-governmental organisations and environmentalists have alleged that the delay in enforcing the local plan, which will have clear guidelines and specifications for development, would allow developers the advantage of building their projects even at environmentally sensitive locations.