Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Concern over Singapore's water supply from Malaysia: Vivian Balakrishnan

Johor reservoir's water level at historic low
By Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times, 4 Aug 2015

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.

Amidst SG50 celebrations, I am watching our water stocks closely.Vivian Balakrishnan visited Linggiu Reservoir in...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reservoirs here healthy due to higher production
Supply from NEWater, desalination at nearly full capacity to provide for Singapore's needs
By Carolyn Khew and Feng Zengkun,The Straits Times, 4 Aug 2015

Singapore's reservoirs may be quite full but that is because national water agency PUB has been ramping up its water production from Newater and desalination to almost full capacity, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

In fact, Singapore's rainfall, which is the main source of water for reservoirs, in the first half of this year was 25 per cent lower than average, due to drier- than-usual weather.

Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore's water supply from Malaysia has been affected by recent dry weather.

If the dry weather continues, water restrictions may have to kick in although the Government is not about to implement water rationing. "This means that PUB will say certain things are not permissible, for instance, unnecessary watering of plants and landscaping with potable water," he said, adding that the use of drinkable water for vehicle washing and to clean up floors might also be restricted.

Dr Cecilia Tortajada, a senior research fellow from the Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said that while the situation may be worrying, it is not alarming.

"Singapore has been aware for several years of the challenges associated with climate change either within Singapore or in the catchment area of the Johor River... Infrastructural projects are being planned and will be implemented, which is the right decision," said Dr Tortajada. "A main challenge, however, will be to make water use much more efficient in Singapore, making use of pricing and non-pricing mechanisms."

Singapore's agreement to obtain water from Malaysia ends in 2061 and plans are already afoot to ensure that the country can meet up to 80 per cent of its water needs through treated seawater and NEWater by 2060.

By next year, the Malaysian government will build a barrage across the Johor River to better secure Malaysia's and Singapore's supply of water from the river.

By then, Singapore would have completed building another NEWater plant - its fifth. Another seawater treatment plant to be completed by 2017 will be able to produce up to 130 million gallons of water a day from seawater, up from the current maximum of 100 million gallons a day.

The plants will ensure that Singapore can meet up to about 70 per cent of its water needs using treated seawater and NEWater, which are not affected by the weather, unlike water from the Johor River and captured rainwater.

During the event, Dr Balakrishnan also urged Singaporeans to be mindful of their water usage.

"We have to conserve water with the dry weather... Fortunately we are in a secure position because of the investments and insurance policies we have bought for Singapore but do not take the climate and weather for granted," he said.

Singapore's water comes from four different sources, otherwise known as our Four National Taps. Water is precious, cherish every drop!
Posted by PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Shanmugam discusses “issue relating to water” with Malaysian counterpart
Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam says Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman listened and understood Singapore’s position on the issue.
Channel NewsAsia, 4 Aug 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has met his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman to discuss an issue relating to water, he revealed to reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Minister's Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (Aug 4).

"I had some months ago raised with him an issue relating to water which is of importance to us and Prime Minister had also raised it with the Malaysian Prime Minister at the last retreat and I followed up today because it's quite important and he listened and he understood our position," said Mr Shanmugam.

He declined to go into details, but when asked if their discussion had anything to do with the price of water tariffs, he said: "It has something to do with that".

"It's not quite a breakthrough, but we had to say what our position was and we are hoping for certain actions," Mr Shanmugam stated.

His comments come a day after Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan visited the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, an important source of water for Singapore. During the visit, Dr Balakrishnan warned that water levels at Linggiu Reservoir are at "unprecedented" low levels.

Singapore currently imports water from Johor, under the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement which expires in 2061. This agreement is guaranteed by both Governments in the 1965 Separation Agreement, which was registered with the United Nations. Both countries have to honour the Water Agreement and the guarantee in the Separation Agreement. Any breach of the Water Agreement would also be a breach of the Separation Agreement and of international law. The Water Agreement provided the two countries with the right to jointly review the price of water after 25 years, in 1987.

However, Malaysia consciously chose not to review the price. Malaysia benefits greatly from the current pricing arrangement. Johor buys 16 million gallons per day of treated water back from Singapore at 50 sen per 1000 gallons. This is a fraction of the true cost to Singapore of treating the water, which includes building and maintaining the water purification plants.

In March last year, Mr Shanmugam told Parliament that Malaysia has lost the right to review the price of water that it supplies to Singapore under the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement. Media reports then suggested that Johor officials wished to raise the price of raw water supplied to Singapore.

Water in Malaysia's Johor state will be rationed in three districts - Pasir Gudang, Kota Tinggi and Johor Baru - from Aug 16 to Sept 15.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, August 7, 2015

Singapore has been supplying additional potable water to Johor since 14 August 2015 in order to help our closest...
Posted by Vivian Balakrishnan on Thursday, August 20, 2015

PUB not obliged to pay tax on Johor waterworks
Neighbours' politics have impact on Singapore's future
Singapore temporarily supplying more water to Johor: PUB

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