November 5, 2017


There has been a spade of flash floods in Penang. A lot of people think it’s due to the global warming, weather change, act of God, etc.

But I have my own idea of why it happens. It’s due to urbanization (duh! but wait for it). I am not an expert in these kind of things but, it’s all common sense. It’s simple to illustrate, really. I’m going to write this in ‘Buku Nota Sains’ format to illustrate my point:

1) First, you need to get yourself a large plastic bag, then cut a hole about the size of 5 cents coin at the bottom. Pour a glass of water into the said plastic bag and observe. Water is going to leak out of the hole, right? Given enough time, water in bag should be gone just fine. (Yeah it should, otherwise your stupidity would have defied the laws of physics.) Just take note how long does it take to leak out all the water in the bag.

2) Then you pour 2 glasses of water into the same bag, simultaneously and observe. Water is still going to leak out of the hole, right? Note the rate of water leaking out of the bag, it should be identical to (1). You’ve just doubled the amount of water in the bag, but the rate for it to drain out is still the same. The amount of time it takes to drain out should be pretty much near double the time it takes in step (1).

3) Now, try with 4 glasses of water, then 8 glasses, and keep adding exponentially. You’ll realize that draining the water through that minuscule hole is no longer effective because the volume that goes in is way more than it comes out. Emptying the bag is not possible unless you stop pouring water into the goddamn bag, and allow the bag enough time to drain the water off.

4) The bag is your housing area. The hole is your drainage system of your housing area. The glasses of water, is the amount of rain water the earth failed to retain (from cutting of hills, deforestation, etc). If there’s development in an area over an existing set of old drainage system, then naturally, there will be more water to drain off. Then you multiply that to the number of projects that got erected in the area over the years… the amount of water for the old drains to handle will be tremendous, but is it too much to handle? (Note: I’m not talking about the drains at the new housing area, I’m talking about the main drains that all the areas converge at the lowest point of the area. See my point?).

So, there should be a calculated capacity as to how much water a city’s drainage system could handle, and when that capacity is exceeded, you get BAM! flood. Water do not have enough time to drain off, and it keeps coming in (rain). It’s all mathematical, really. I’m all for development, but I just hope the nincompoops who’s in engineering have an inkling of what to expect when the population increases at an exponential rate. Every big city has this problem, but do you have what it takes to resolve this? (we don’t just need bigger drains, but also a play of land elevation to smartly divert water flow). To date, we’re in a minus C grade.

michaelooi  | thoughts  | 

The commenting function has been disabled.