Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir’s water level is quite dangerously low. Here’s why you should care

Water rationing could well become more than a vague memory from our past.

By Chan Cheow Pong | January 10, 2017

As you know, Singapore has been, and still is, buying water from Malaysia — and we will continue to do so till 2061.

It’s one of our four sources of water, contributing 60 per cent of our water, the other three being local catchment water (we collect ourselves one), NEWater (the one we make clean from our dirty water) and desalinated water (we make with reverse-osmosis one).

And our key source of water from Malaysia is Linggiu Reservoir, which feeds to the Johor River, which at the moment (well, on Jan 1) is at 27 per cent of its full capacity.

Here’s something even more disconcerting: if this year turns out to be a dry one in terms of rainfall, Linggiu Reservoir may run completely dry.

We learned this in a written parliamentary reply to a question from Marine Parade GRC MP Sean Kian Peng about this.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who also happens to be our former Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said the government is watching the situation closely, though, and water ministries from Singapore and Malaysia will discuss and identify possible solutions to this pretty pressing problem.

In his reply, Minister Balakrishnan said that the water level in Linggiu Reservoir has dropped drastically over the past few years, from 84 per cent at the start of 2015, to 49 per cent at the start of 2016, to the lowest recorded level of 20 per cent in October 2016. It stands at 27 per cent as of January 1 2017.

“There is a significant risk that Linggiu Reservoir may fail (drop to 0 per cent) in 2017 if it turns out to be a dry year. Should Linggiu Reservoir fail, there will be many more occasions when it will not be possible for PUB to abstract its entitlement of 250 mgd (million gallons per day), and the current abstractions by Johor’s Semangar and Loji Air Water Treatment Plants will also be affected. This will cause severe problems for both Malaysia and Singapore.”

Under the 1962 Water Agreement drafted before Singapore’s independence, PUB Singapore is entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons of water from the Johor River daily.

In exchange, Johor is entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent of the raw water it supplies to Singapore. This amounts to about five million gallons.

Minister Balakrishnan added that during the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat on December 13, 2016, both our Prime Ministers agreed on the importance of ensuring reliable and adequate water supply from the Johor River.

The Malaysian government, he wrote, has also reaffirmed its commitment to uphold Singapore’s rights under the 1962 Water Agreement.

“Our agencies have an excellent working relationship, and will continue to work closely together to sustain our water supply.”

Top photo from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s FB.

Related Articles:

Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir that supplies water to S’pore is 22% full

S’pore has been supplying Johor with potable water. Since 1962.

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About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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