Johor 'able to meet water obligation to Singapore'

The water in Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir.
The water in Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir.PHOTO: PUB

Top official says it can still supply agreed amount of raw water despite dry spell

JOHOR BARU • Johor will continue to meet its obligation to supply 250 million gallons of raw water to Singapore daily even though the state is in the grip of a dry spell leading to water rationing in some areas, a top state official has said.

Johor's Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman, Datuk Hasni Mohammad, told The Star daily that the state would still be able to meet Singapore's water needs despite the drop in levels in several dams and reservoirs around Johor.

"We will still be able to meet Singapore's needs despite the drop," he was quoted as saying.

 
 

The Separation Agreement guarantees Singapore the right to draw 250 million imperial gallons a day (mgd) of raw water from the Johor River. This right expires in 2061.

In an effort to ensure that this right was enforced in a sustainable way, the PUB had built and operates a large regulating reservoir - the Linggiu Reservoir - on the upper reaches of the Johor River.

The reservoir, which helps to meet half of Singapore's water needs, collects and releases rainwater into the river. This pushes seawater back into the sea and ensures that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run water treatment plant there.

Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir have fallen to a new historic low. The reservoir is just over one-third full. Last October, water levels in the reservoir had already reached a low of 41 per cent, but they have fallen some more to 35 per cent.

But water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir have fallen to a new historic low. The reservoir is just over one-third full. Last October, water levels in the reservoir had already reached a low of 41 per cent, but they have fallen some more to 35 per cent. These levels are far below the 80 per cent that the reservoir had at the start of last year.

Mr Hasni yesterday also outlined several measures in the pipeline to alleviate the water situation.

He said cloud seeding would be carried out around dams and a crackdown was imminent on those who drew water illegally from catchment areas.

"We will take stern action against those found drawing water illegally from the water catchment areas, including charging them with trespassing on state-owned land," he told reporters. He said the military and police would be roped in for enforcement action.

He also disclosed that the state authorities had issued notices to large-scale vegetable farmers with property close to the water catchment areas to look at other water resources instead of using river water.

"We are also closely watching whether animal breeders and factories draw water illegally from the water catchment areas and rivers," he said.

Mr Hasni also referred to the RM90 million (S$31 million) Johor River Barrage project to reduce salinity in the river.

"The barrage will be fully operational in the next few months," he said, adding that this would allow for water extraction to be carried out in the river without the worry of saltwater intrusion into treatment plants.

Singapore and Malaysia have been working together on projects such as the barrage to increase water resources in Johor, according to Singapore's Consulate-General in Johor Baru.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2016, with the headline 'Johor 'able to meet water obligation to Singapore''. Print Edition | Subscribe