MUAR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Melaka government may have to pay a higher price if it wants to buy more raw water from Johor, the southern state's chief minister said on Tuesday (July 24).
"If they (Melaka) want an increase in water supply from us, then they have to pay more," Johor Mentri Besar Osman Sapian said after signing a water agreement with Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari under which Johor will continue to sell raw water to Melaka at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons.
Osman said the Johor government will review Melaka's request to increase the raw water supply, which currently stands at 35 million gallons per day, to 55 million gallons per day.
He said the water price would not be an issue as both the Johor and Melaka governments are under the administration of the federal government.
Adly said Melaka, like Johor, was experiencing rapid growth which has attracted workers to settle in the state.
"Housing projects are mushrooming in Melaka and with the increase in population, there is greater demand for adequate supply of basic needs including clean water," said Adly.
"The source of water in Melaka is quite limited but we are grateful to have a neighbour like Johor that is willing to share its resources with us," he added.
Mr Osman's comments came as Malaysia and Singapore are embroiled in a simmering dispute over water.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called a bilateral water accord into question shortly after coming into power in May, arguing that Singapore should pay more.
Under the agreement, inked in 1962 and expiring in 2061, Singapore is entitled to draw up to 250 mgd of raw water from the Johor River, at a price of 3 sen per 1,000 gallons.
In return, Johor is entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent, or 5 mgd, of the water supplied to Singapore, at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons. The cost of treating every 1,000 gallons of water is RM2.40.
Mr Osman said earlier this month (July) Johor might well raise the price of the raw water that it sells to Singapore from 3 sen to 50 sen per 1,000 gallons - the same price Melaka pays.
Singapore has said the 1962 treaty was guaranteed by both governments in the Separation Agreement, which was registered with the United Nations when Singapore broke away from Malaysia in 1965, and that both sides must comply fully with all the provisions of these agreements.