SMART doubts answered

8 July 2014

Due to a series of recent, frequent flash floods, Klang Valley residents have begun to dread the sound of thunder.

Many cannot help but doubt the effect of all the flood mitigation projects in place, especially the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) that has not ended flood woes in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia's Department of Irrigation & Drainage (DID) director-general Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman, however, explained that the recent floods were not related to the operations of the Smart Tunnel, but were localised and possibly caused by clogged drains.

According to Ahmad Husaini, there are two types of floods in Kuala Lumpur and in most urban areas -- river flooding and flash floods.

River flooding occurs when a river is unable to support the extra discharge during a downpour, thus overflowing or its water level rises so high that it is impossible for water from the drains to flow in. On the other hand, flash floods are localised and are related to an area's internal drainage.

"Before the Smart Tunnel was built, most floods in Kuala Lumpur were related to Sungai Klang and the flood waters took a long time to recede," he said. "The Smart Tunnel was built to address the issue of river flooding by diverting extra water from Sungai Klang."

Besides the possibility of clogged drains, Husaini said unusually intense rainfall was the cause of the recent series of flash floods.

"The trend of rainfall is higher than normal, maybe because of global warming."

Because of this, he could not identify the flooding hotspots in the Klang Valley.

"It is difficult to tell where flash floods tend to occur, as they are all over the place because the case now depends on where the rain falls.

"This pattern of unusually intense rainfall has been occurring over the past 10 years. DID and local authorities are looking at the need to upgrade internal drainage in specific areas," he said, adding that local authorities have also been diligently making sure that drains were not clogged.

Meanwhile, many Klang Valley residents have blamed the MRT construction works as a possible contributor to the frequent flash floods of late but Husaini begged to differ.

"Floods were happening even before the MRT construction began and I do not think it is fair to point fingers at that," he said.

On future flood mitigation plans, Husaini said it would be an ongoing process.

"If there are issues to be addressed, we will look into them," he said.

All in all, Husaini feels that the habit of not littering is of paramount importance to keep the city free from floods. Unfortunately, drains, rivers and their tributaries are often choked with rubbish.

"Public awareness is essential, and we are improving on that through the River of Life outreach programme, which has received encouraging response so far," he said.