SINGAPORE: The water level at Johor's Linggiu Reservoir that provides water to Singapore has fallen below 50 per cent, Singapore’s national water agency PUB said on Saturday (Sep 28).
This was due to the ongoing dry weather, PUB said, adding that the reservoir's water level at the start of the year was 72 per cent. The water level at Linggiu Reservoir last dropped below 50 per cent in 2015 to reach a historic low of 20 per cent in 2016.
The agency said that water levels at Lingiu Reservoir have not fully recovered to the healthy level of 80 per cent to 90 per cent, which has been been the case for almost 20 years since it began operations in 1995.
Recovery at Linggiu Reservoir has also been slow, PUB said, due to more water being drawn from Johor River than is sustainable.
“Singapore built the Linggiu Reservoir at a cost of more than S$300 million to enable reliable abstraction of water at PUB’s Johor River Waterworks (JRWW)," the agency said in a media release.
"However, Malaysia has built water plants upstream of the JRWW, which have further added to the abstraction of water from the Johor River.
"This challenging situation is exacerbated during dry weather, as PUB needs to discharge more water from Linggiu Reservoir to support water abstraction.
“In the event of a prolonged drought, a depleted Linggiu Reservoir will compromise Singapore’s right to abstract our full 250 million gallons per day (mgd) entitlement of water under the 1962 Water Agreement.”
Under the 1962 agreement, which lasts until 2061, Singapore has full and exclusive right to draw up to 250 million gallons of water daily from the Johor River at the price of 3 sen per 1,000 gallons.
PUB SUPPLYING MORE WATER TO JOHOR
PUB also said on Saturday that it has been supplying more water to Johor, as requested.
Johor's state water agency (BAKAJ) made a request to PUB for additional supply of treated water, as a result of disruption in production at Johor’s water plant in Skudai, PUB said, adding that it "readily acceded" to the request and has been doing so from Sep 23 to Sep 27.
Under the 1962 agreement, Singapore is required to supply Johor with 5 million gallons per day (mgd) of treated water.
“In practice, PUB has been supplying 16 mgd of treated water to Johor at their request," PUB said.
"This latest request for an additional 6 mgd of treated water is on top of the 16 mgd that Singapore already supplies to Johor.
"Johor made similar requests this year in January and August. Last year, Singapore supplied additional water in excess of the usual 16 mgd for 20 days."
The water agency added that it has supplied all the additional treated water above 5 mgd on a “goodwill basis” at the same price as under the 1962 agreement of 50 sen per 1,000 gallons - a fraction of the cost of treating the water.
“This has been done without prejudice to our rights under the 1962 Water Agreement,” it said.
The agency added: “As mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in April 2019, both countries have an interest to work together to ensure a sustainable water supply for both sides.
"This includes the identification of appropriate and timely measures, including schemes, to increase the yield of the Johor River."
Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli said he hopes both countries work together to increase the yield of Johor River, and "ensure a sustainable water supply" for the people of Singapore and Malaysia.
Singapore "has and will experience more extreme weather patterns" because of climate change, and prolonged dry spells will affect the country's water stocks, PUB said.
"To ensure a resilient supply of water for all Singaporeans, PUB has planned ahead and invested heavily over the past few decades to develop our four national taps," PUB said.
"Likewise, Singapore must continue to plan and implement the infrastructure needed to meet the present and future challenges of climate change."