Water shortage in Malaysia a timely reminder to save resource: Masagos

ALBERT WAI Today Online 21 Apr 16;

JERUSALEM — The severe water shortage in several Malaysian states serves as a timely reminder to Singaporeans about the need to conserve water, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

Commenting on announcements that states such as Johor and Pahang across the Causeway have imposed water-rationing measures, Mr Masagos said: “We hope that this kind of thing (water rationing) does not happen in Singapore, but we must not take it for granted because for the last few years — 2014, 2015 and even in early 2016 — we have had very dry spells in the early part of the year, and this has contributed to lower and lower levels in our Linggiu Reservoir.”

The reservoir in Johor meets half of Singapore’s water supply needs, but because of the drought, water levels have fallen well below 40 per cent.

The Minister was speaking to the Singapore media in Israel, where he was accompanying Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his first official visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Mr Masagos stressed that with the threat of climate change, it is important for Singaporeans to help save water.

“Our population must be aware that whatever we do, wherever we are, climate change is real and it will attack us in ways we might not be ready for … I think this awareness must be something we put into ourselves and our children to ensure that we do not take whatever we have for granted,” he said, adding that at the same time, the Government is looking at systemic ways on how to reduce water usage in the industries.

“I think more importantly, the public must respond … make sure that as much as we try to make sure the water supply remains constantly flowing and does not disrupt their daily lives … we must look at how we can help save water,” he said/

Singapore is trying to reduce its per capita domestic water consumption from 151 litres per day to 140 litres by 2030, having brought it down from 165 litres per day in 2003.

“In some European cities, they can achieve 100 litres of water (per day),” said Mr Masagos.

“Maybe they are different because of the climate … but we should aspire, we should really make a lot of effort to bring down our water consumption.”

Mr Masagos added that he had learnt a lot about water management during discussions with his Jordanian and Israeli counterparts.

“They have challenges in meeting the supply of water for their population both because of climate change, which has made the challenge very big ... as well as an increase in the population, which they did not foresee due to the rise in the number of refugees from Syria and Iraq,” he said.

“At the same time, Jordan, Israel, Palestine face severe drought. I was told that for the last 10 years, rainfall has fallen by at least 20 per cent, which means that all their water-supply systems are severely strained.

“These are all lessons for us to learn. We always have to make sure we are ready for the worst outcome, particularly from the climate change challenge that Singapore can, and will, face.”

He added that among the issues he had discussed with his counterparts in the Middle East was how new water technologies may be on the horizon to address these problems.

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