PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Singapore and Malaysia agree on the importance of ensuring reliable and adequate water supplies for Singapore from the Johor River, the leaders of the two countries said on Tuesday (Dec 13), with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong adding that he "appreciates very much that Malaysia will be undertaking appropriate and timely measures to increase the yield of the Johor River."
The issue of water supply was among the various topics discussed by both prime ministers during the seventh leaders' retreat held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.
Speaking at a joint news conference after the signing of the high-speed rail agreement, both leaders noted that water was an important issue.
"We've agreed to work closely together to make sure that Singapore gets its share of water under the (1962) water agreement," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
However, Mr Najib noted that there were some challenges, such as the effects of climate change that has affected the supply of water to Singapore.
He gave the assurance, though, that both countries will work together to resolve the problem.
Mr Najib also revealed that the Johor River Barrage project will be operational by March next year.
The project aims to reduce salinity in the river during dry seasons and allow Singapore and Johor to draw the full capacity of the river. This is expected to increase the yield of the Johor River.
"I'm very happy that the Johor River barrage is now in its final stages of completion," said Mr Lee. "It's already making a difference and helping to improve the yield of the river, and our agencies are working closely together. And that means on our side the PUB, on Johor's side the BAKAJ (water regulatory body Badan Kawal Selia Air Johor) and on the federal level, KeTTHA (Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water)."
In a joint statement released later on Tuesday evening, the two leaders also expressed their appreciation to the water authorities of both Johor and Singapore for their ongoing cooperation and encouraged both water authorities to continue their "excellent working relationship".
"Singapore noted that Malaysia will undertake appropriate and timely measures to increase the yield of the Johor River," said the joint statement.