Singapore to review water price or suffer shortage

Water reserve in JB has dropped around the critical level of 4% despite heavy rain over the past month

pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

PUTRAJAYA has again urged Singapore to review the price of water sold to the republic as Johor struggles to meet its own needs due to rising demands and dwindling raw water supplies.

Water reserve at the capital Johor Baru (JB) had dropped around the critical level of 4% despite heavy rain over the past month. The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) recommended reserve levels of between 10% and 15%.

Treated water demand in JB has increased to 1.14 million litres daily, which will see the capital’s reserve margin to hit bottom by the third quarter of next year, said Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar (picture).

He said the government will prioritise the need of the people in Johor over its commitment to Singapore in the event of major water crisis.

“Malaysia has long sacrificed its water resources for the benefit of others at the expense of the people in Johor. A significant amount had been spent to ensure that Singapore can continuously extract 250 million gallons (946.35 million litres) a day of raw water from Sungai Johor.

“For example, some RM100 million was used for the construction of a barricade in Sungai Johor to prevent saltwater from entering the river. This investment is clearly not worth the three sen per 1,000 gallons paid by Singapore,” Dr Xavier told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to a question by Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar (Pakatan Harapan-Segamat) who asked the minister to state the current situation of water supply in Johor, including the sale of raw water to Singapore.

Dr Xavier said the rate paid by Singapore as “unreasonable and very cheap” compared to rates in other countries, such as China-Hong Kong (RM14.50/ 1,000 gallons), China-Macau (RM6.80/ 1,000 gallons), China-Taiwan (RM5.80/1,000 gallons) and Turkey-Cyprus (RM10.37/1,000 gallons).

Domestically, the sale of raw water is also higher between Pahang and Selangor at 46 sen per 1,000 gallons, as well as between Johor and Melaka at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons.

The federal government has allocated RM660 million under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) to increase the supply of raw water in Johor by 770mgd within the next decade. Two more projects are still being reviewed and expected to be realised under the 12MP.

Federal-owned Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd is also working on two projects to increase treated water supply in the state, including the construction of Sungai Layang Water Treatment Plant worth RM500 million. The facility will have the capacity to supply 320 million litres of treated water daily by 2028.

The second project involves the building of a smaller plant in Sungai Layang which will have the capacity to supply 20 million litres of treated water per day. The plant is expected to be ready by June 2020.