Water levels at Linggiu Reservoir still low

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (centre, in blue) attending a focus group session on water at The Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay yesterday. Participants gave suggestions on how Singaporeans can be enco
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli (centre, in blue) attending a focus group session on water at The Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay yesterday. Participants gave suggestions on how Singaporeans can be encouraged to conserve water.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Key supply source to S'pore is about half-full, despite start of north-east monsoon season

Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor - a major supply source to Singapore - are now at about 49 per cent, despite the start of the north-east monsoon season last month.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli revealed the figure yesterday, saying: "At the beginning of 2015, it was about 80 per cent... At 50 per cent, it is quite a precarious number, because starting at that level, if we are ever hit with a long spell of lack of rain again, the Linggiu Reservoir water level can fall all the way down.

"The weather is something we can't control and, unfortunately, the rain does not always fall where you want it to."

He was speaking to reporters after a discussion about water for future generations, organised by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is part of the series of SGfuture engagement sessions.

Dry weather has caused a steady depletion of water in Linggiu Reservoir over the last year. In August, water levels dropped to 54 per cent capacity before dipping to a record low of 43 per cent in November.

PRECARIOUS SITUATION

At the beginning of 2015,it was about 80 per cent... At 50 per cent, it is quite a precarious number, because starting at that level, if we are ever hit with a long spell of lack of rain again, the Linggiu Reservoir water level can fall all the way down.

MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, on the water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor - a major supply source to Singapore.

In 1994, Singapore built the reservoir upstream of the Johor River, to collect and release rainwater and to push sea water back into the sea. This ensures that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run treatment plant there.

The Republic can draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) from the river - meeting up to 60 per cent of its current needs.

Mr Masagos said the Republic is working with Malaysia to ensure that its obligation of supplying Singapore with 250 mgd is met.

About 50 participants from non- governmental organisations, government agencies and members of the public gathered for yesterday's session at the The Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay.

Participants gave suggestions on how Singaporeans can be encouraged to conserve water, which they felt many take for granted here.

Some suggested introducing water rationing exercises or increasing the price of water so that Singaporeans would be more mindful of their water usage.

Ms Chai Ning, 20, who is doing environmental studies at the National University of Singapore, said that schools could look into installing water meters to show how much is being used and at what cost.

"Singaporeans are very spoilt, in the sense that water is so easily available," she said.

"Many of us are not aware of the amount of water we use."

Singapore's current water demand stands at 400 mgd - enough to fill 730 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

By 2060, total water demand is expected to double, with the non-domestic sector making up 70 per cent of total demand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Water levels at Linggiu Reservoir still low'. Print Edition | Subscribe