PUTRAJAYA: Singapore and Malaysia need to look at ways to increase the supply of fresh water from the Johor River, even as a new barrage there is already helping to make a difference, said Singapore Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli on Friday (Dec 16).
Mr Masagos noted that the water level at Johor's Linggiu Reservoir, which fell to a historic low this year, currently stands at 26 per cent. "On the back of the dry monsoon season next year, it's probably not going to recover very quickly," he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart.
He said the barrage has been completed and can be operated mechanically, though its automatic functions will be implemented only in March.
"Now, what that means is that salinity intrusion has been resolved henceforth, so we are not going to face problems on that. In fact, I have been monitoring it and I have seen that it has been very effective.
Mr Masagos said that the barrage has increased the yield of the Johor River. "But the natural yield of the Johor River is not enough to meet the needs currently of the Johor population as well as the Singapore population, should Linggiu dam fail."
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Malaysia would take "appropriate and timely measures" to increase the yield of the Johor River - an undertaking Mr Lee said he "appreciates very much".
Mr Masagos did not give details on the measures but said that various proposals have been made to increase freshwater supply. Both countries are reviewing the technical feasibility and cost of the proposed schemes, he added.