Johor River getting saltier

Malaysia's Johor River is becoming more salty while levels at the Linggiu Reservoir are decreasing, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday. Linggiu, which was built upstream of the Johor River in 1994, collects and releases rainwater into the river.

It is operated by Singapore's national water agency PUB and helps to meet half of Singapore's water needs. The reservoir is about 33 per cent full, a historic low. It was 40 per cent full in April, and 80 per cent full at the beginning of last year.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Stamford Detention Tank, which is being built to improve flood protection in Singapore, Mr Masagos said: "To wash off the salinity is a challenge. The salinity of the river is increasing and intrudes into our water works."

PUB supplies Johor with 16 million gallons of potable water a day, but increased this amount last Saturday by 6 million gallons at the request of Badan Kawalselia Air Johor, Johor's water regulatory body.

"In providing water to Malaysia, we first ensure that we have adequate supply," said Mr Masagos. "We are able to extract our 250 million gallons per day, on average, over the month, although we are always challenged because of the same weather challenges that both countries are facing." He added that Singapore has asked the Malaysian authorities to look into other ways to top up the Linggiu Reservoir.

The Straits Times reported on May 27 that Johor is looking at two rivers - Sayong River and Ulu Sedili Besar River - for water. Either one of the river projects would take at least two years to complete.

Jalelah Abu Baker

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Johor River getting saltier'. Print Edition | Subscribe