KUCHING, Oct 7 – The impoundment of Bakun Dam in Belaga is expected to start as early as next week, said Zulkifle Osman, managing director of Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd (Sarawak Hidro) said today.
However, closure of the three diversion tunnels would depend on the water level, which must be below 60m, and the weather – no rain in the catchment area for few days, he said.
“Sarawak Hidro is given the window to start the impoundment on Sunday. A group of experts will decide the day for the closure of the diversion tunnels for impoundment.
“Hopefully, the impoundment of the Bakun reservoir will start by next week if the weather condition and water level permits,” he said today.
Zulkifle said the reservoir impoundment would take about seven months to enable the water to reach the minimum operating level of 195m above sea level for tests of the turbines to be carried out.
Impoundment of the Balui River will enable water level to rise up steadily to flood some 69,500 hectares of land, an area equal to the size of Singapore.
Sarawak Hidro, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance
Incorporated, is the developer of the Bakun Dam, which will generate 2,400MW of electricity when all the eight turbines are in place by 2012.
The Bakun Dam, the world’s second tallest concrete rock-filled dam, is located on Balui River in the upper Rejang River basin, 37km upstream from Belaga.
It is expected to be completed by December. The overall cost of Bakun has been put at RM7.3 billion, but due to cost overruns, compensation for delays and interests, the final cost is said to have escalated.
Zulkifle said engineers and hydrologists are closely monitoring the weather and water level for flooding.
“If the weather condition permits, our diver will dive into the river to check on the gates and river current before the impoundment starts,” added Zulkifle who is at the dam site now. – Bernama