Babagon Dam is safe: Specialist
Published on: Friday, October 09, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: The Babagon Dam is performing as per design standard and specification, according to its designer Australian dam Specialist George Samios, whose service was retained by concession company Jetama Sdn Bhd for periodical dam safety inspection.The assessment is despite the June earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale as strong earthquake resistance was considered when designing the structure.

In a dialogue held at the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) Sabah between a delegation of engineers led by Sabah Chairman Tan Koh Yon and Samios, it was revealed that the dam was last inspected in March and was reported to have been well-maintained and performing in tip-top condition.

After the June earthquake, another safety review would be conducted, on top of the normal maintenance and surveillance.

Jetama called for the inspection to be done in view of the earthquake and Samios reported that from inspections and monitoring of data furnished by Jetama, the dam is performing well.

The dam was designed for earthquake resistance to a magnitude of 0.30 Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) with a return period of 10,000 years.

The June 5 earthquake with epicentre in Ranau was small compared to what was put in designing the dam in 1995. The dam is responsible for the treated water needs of people living in Penampang, Putatan, Lokawi, Tg Aru and Kota Kinabalu areas.

"Babagon Dam is a concrete face rock fill dam with a very robust design. There are many similar dams around the world that had experienced more intense earthquakes and are still functioning well today," the statement said.

Nevertheless, following the June earthquake, another dam safety review will be conducted in Babagon Dam.

From the dialogue, it was learnt that dams can be designed to serve other purposes such as irrigation, power generation, flood mitigation, navigation, sport and recreation projects and others.

However, a good dam site is very scarce as such site must have attributes such as large catchment area, good accessibility, favourable geography, desirable geology and geotechnical properties, and minimum impact on social and environment.

Therefore, it is very sensible to study all potential dam sites so that the State has an inventory of potential natural assets in term of water resources, hydro-electric power, mineral deposits of economic value, quarry, dimension stone, flora, fauna, social, economic and environmental issues.

It was noted that Sabah is bestowed with abundant rainfall, sometimes causing floods in certain areas and drought in others.

It said that it was fortunate that the Babagon dam was completed in 1997, which helped cushion the impact of the El Nino drought the following year.


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