Johor reservoir's water level at historic low

Water in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, which helps supply water to Singapore, has been steadily depleting due to prolonged dry weather.
Water in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, which helps supply water to Singapore, has been steadily depleting due to prolonged dry weather.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Dry weather has led to a sharp decline in water level in an important reservoir which helps supply water from Malaysia to Singapore, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

The water in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor has been steadily depleting due to prolonged dry weather in Malaysia and has now reached a historic low of 54.5 per cent of the reservoir's capacity.

Dr Balakrishnan said this is cause for concern, especially as it affects Singapore's ability to draw its full 250 million gallons entitlement from Malaysia's Johor River.

Under a 1962 agreement, Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons of water a day from the river. This can meet up to 60 per cent of the Republic's current needs.

In 1994, Singapore built the Linggiu Reservoir upstream of the river, so that it can collect and release rainwater to push seawater back into the sea, ensuring Singapore's water supply. But since the start of this year, national water agency PUB has had to stop drawing water from the river temporarily on 77 occasions, due to seawater intruding from the sea into the river.

A weather phenomenon called El Nino is also expected to lead to even drier weather than usual for Singapore and Malaysia for the rest of the year, which will further affect the water supply from the river as well as Singapore's own reservoirs which store rainwater. If the situation continues to worsen, Singapore may have to restrict some uses of drinkable water, such as for washing vehicles and floors, said Dr Balakrishnan at a media briefing at the reservoir.

He added, however, that water rationing is not on the cards. Singapore has been keeping its own reservoirs healthy by ramping up water supply from its seawater treatment and Newater plants. "The key point that I want to share is that we are concerned but there is no need for alarm," said Dr Balakrishnan, even as he urged Singaporeans to do their part by using less water.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2015, with the headline 'Johor reservoir's water level at historic low'. Print Edition | Subscribe