ISKANDAR PUTERI • The Johor state government has allocated close to RM80 million ($26 million) in its 2017 Budget to secure sufficient water supply in the long term.
This will fund 14 water management initiatives to address water-related problems, including finding new sources of water and overcoming supply disruptions.
Johor recently completed a study on its water resources for the period 2010 to 2060; these initiatives will implement recommendations made by the study.
"Among the initiatives being planned are a raw water transfer project from Sungai Lenggor to the Congok Dam in Mersing costing RM65 million; the building of two tube wells in Kota Tinggi at a cost of RM1 million, and the implementation of the integrated river basin management at Sungai Johor, which will cost RM2 million a year for five years," said Johor's Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin, according to the New Straits Times.
Bernama reported that other projects will include maintaining the Layang Hulu Dam and Layang Hilir Dam water catchment areas in Pasir Gudang, installing a water quality monitoring system at Sungai Johor, and implementing a management plan for the Sungai Gembut water catchment area in Kota Tinggi .
Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled said the state government also planned to conduct a feasibility study on underground water resources at a cost of RM1 million, working with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Among the initiatives being planned are a raw water transfer project from Sungai Lenggor to the Congok Dam in Mersing costing RM65 million ($21 million), the building of two tube wells in Kota Tinggi at a cost of RM1 million, and the implementation of the integrated river basin management at Sungai Johor, which will cost RM2 million a year for five years.
JOHOR'S MENTERI BESAR MOHAMED KHALED NORDIN, on how Johor plans to meet rising demand for water.
All these, he said, would be complemented by several other measures to increase the state government's knowledge and expertise in managing water.
"The other initiatives include organising the Johor Water Forum 2017 and... the formation of a non-governmental organisation to act as adviser to the Johor State Water Resource Council.
"We will also implement some projects such as channelling of the Iskandar Malaysia raw water, worth RM560 million, through the federal government allocation," he said. Iskandar Malaysia is a special development zone in Johor covering 2,217 sq km, roughly three times the size of Singapore.
"For a start, a sum of RM5 million will be allocated next year," he said, when tabling the Johor 2017 Budget at the state assembly sitting on Thursday.
To improve water resource management, he said the state government would boost regulation of jetty licences and sea reclamation works.
This, Mr Mohamed Khaled said, would be done by the state water regulator Badan Kawalselia Air Johor (Bakaj), employing various methods including stricter enforcement of the law against water pollution, such as through the provisions in the Water Enactment 1921.
Johor has seen its water levels drop since early last year due to drought, pollution and rapid development. In July this year, Bakaj had to make an urgent request to Singapore's PUB for an additional six million gallons of water per day for three days "to stabilise its own supply system in Johor Baru... due to pollution in the Johor River", said PUB in a statement then. Singapore still depends on Malaysia for about 40 per cent of its water needs.
Johor's population is projected to grow to as much as five million in 2030, doubling water demand. This, along with pollution, is expected to strain the state's export commitments to Singapore.
PUB is entitled to draw 250 million gallons of raw water daily from the Johor River under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia, which expires in 2061.
In exchange, Singapore is obliged to sell five million gallons of treated water to Johor each day.
However, PUB has been regularly providing Johor with up to 16 million gallons of water on a daily basis.