Singapore, Malaysia must try to increase fresh water supply from Johor River: Masagos

Sumisha Naidu, Malaysia Correspondent, Channel NewsAsia 17 Dec 16;

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.

- CNA/dt


Singapore, Malaysia to boost fresh water yield from Johor River
TOH EE MING Today Online 16 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE — The Singapore and Malaysian governments are looking at “technical solutions” that can raise the supply of fresh water from the Johor River, amid concerns over the dry weather and growing usage.

“The natural flow of the Johor River is not enough to meet the current needs of the Johor population as well as the Singapore population should the Linggiu dam fail,” Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told reporters on Friday (Dec 16) after an annual meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Mr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The Linggiu reservoir, which enables Singapore to reliably draw water from the Johor River, has seen water levels recede to historic lows since August last year. Water levels there currently stand at 26 per cent, and a quick recovery is not in sight, Mr Masagos noted.

But the near-completion of the Johor River Barrage project has at least resolved persistent worries about saltwater intrusion. Mr Masagos said the Malaysians are now able to operate the barrage mechanically, meaning “salinity intrusion has been resolved henceforth”.

Water from Linggiu is released into the Johor River to prevent saltwater intrusion from the sea into the river, as salty water cannot be treated by the water plant further downstream.

Asked if any specific new plan was tabled at the meeting, Mr Masagos said both sides are still evaluating the technical feasibility and costs of various proposals to improve the yield of the Johor River.

“Both parties have been tasked to look at it and propose the most appropriate and timely measures to both Prime Ministers,” he added.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong discussed the water issue during their annual leaders’ retreat earlier this week. Mr Najib assured that Malaysia will supply Singapore with the share of water due to it under the 1962 agreement signed between the two countries.

After the meeting, Mr Lee expressed his appreciation at a joint press conference with Mr Najib that Malaysia “will be undertaking appropriate and timely measures” to increase the yield of the Johor River.

With regard to concerns over ongoing land reclamation projects in the Straits of Johor, such as the mega Forest City project off Johor Baru,

Mr Masagos said that both countries are monitoring each other’s developments and exchanging data that include the environmental impact assessment for any of these projects.

“We have to ensure that when anyone develops, any part of the Straits of Johor, they must meet the requisite processes to ensure that before they do reclamation and even after the reclamation is done, these processes must be completed,” he said, adding that Malaysia and Singapore are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

A joint press release issued by both the governments said the two Ministers also reviewed the progress achieved by the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment.

The Ministers acknowledged the progress made in addressing transboundary haze pollution, and also reaffirmed their commitment to effectively implement the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution to prevent and monitor the pollution resulting from land and forest fires.

On the issue of tackling vehicular pollution, both countries noted that they had made marked improvements over the years and would continue to share experiences and strategies in controlling vehicular emissions, such as the tightening of emission standards and stepping-up of enforcement against smoky vehicles.

Both countries also agreed to work together to prevent and control oil pollution arising from incidents involving ship-to-ship transfer activities, as well as measures against accidental or illegal disposal of oil and oily sludge into the Straits of Johor.


S'pore, M'sia to ensure adequate water supply
The New Paper 17 Dec 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Singapore need to take further steps to ensure supply of fresh water from the Johor River, despite a barrage across its mouth solving saltwater intrusion.

Singapore's Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday that the Linggiu dam, which channels water to treatment plants in the Johor river operated by both the state and Singapore's water agency PUB, was currently at 26 per cent.

"On the back of the dry monsoon season next year, it is probably not going to recover very quickly," he told reporters after an annual meeting with his Malaysian counterpart.

Mr Masagos met Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar yesterday.

Delegations from both governments discussed land reclamation works in the Strait of Johor and the progress made in combating haze in the region.

DEPLOYMENT

Mr Masagos said the barrage is now fully operational mechanically, although automatic deployment will only begin in March.

He said: "What that means is that salinity intrusion has been solved. I have been monitoring and it is very effective.

"But the natural flow 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."

He said the prime ministers of both countries had agreed during their annual Leaders' Retreat on Tuesday to take "timely and appropriate measures" to augment the supply of natural water to the Johor River.

Although he did not reveal what measures would be taken, he said Malaysia and Singapore will look at "many schemes that have already been proposed", and decide based on technical feasibility, cost and speed of implementation.

The Straits Times reported in May that Johor is studying plans to divert water from two rivers to the Linggiu Reservoir to reduce water shortage that has hit the state in the last few years.


KL, Singapore to do more to ensure water supply from Johor River
Shannon Teoh, Straits Times AsiaOne 17 Dec 16;

Malaysia and Singapore will take further steps to guarantee the crucial supply of water from the stressed Johor River, said Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

He said the prime ministers of both countries had resolved on Tuesday, at a Leaders' Retreat, to take "timely and appropriate measures" to augment the supply of natural water to the Johor River.

While he did not reveal what measures would be taken, he said Malaysia and Singapore will look at "many schemes that have already been proposed", and decide based on technical feasibility, cost and speed of implementation.


Mr Masagos made the comments after an annual meeting here with his Malaysian counterpart, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar.

The Straits Times reported in May that Johor is studying plans to divert water from two rivers to the Linggiu Reservoir located upstream of the Johor River to ease water shortages that have hit the state in the past few years. The reservoir collects and releases rainwater, pushing seawater back into the sea to ensure the river water is not too salty to be treated.

One of Singapore's four taps besides reclaimed water (Newater), desalinated water and local catchment water, the Johor River supplies nearly 60 per cent of the Republic's current water needs.

But dry weather this year has raised fears over whether Singapore can continue to rely on Malaysia for the 250 million gallons per day of raw water under a water agreement which runs until 2061.

Yesterday, Mr Masagos noted that despite installing a barrage over the river mouth to prevent the intrusion of salt water, fresh water levels were still precariously low.

The Linggiu Reservoir was currently at 26 per cent of its capacity, he said. The reservoir was at 80 per cent at the beginning of last year, and 35 per cent in April this year.

"On the back of the dry monsoon season next year, it is probably not going to recover very quickly," he told reporters. The dry monsoon season usually runs from May to September, but has been affected by climate change. This year, for example, the reservoir started to dry up around March.

Mr Masagos said the barrage is now fully operational mechanically - automatic deployment will begin only in March - increasing the yield of treated water as plants no longer need to be shut down when the river gets too salty.

"What that means is that salinity intrusion has been resolved. I have been monitoring, and it has been very effective. But the natural flow 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," he said.

Under the two countries' water agreement, Singapore is obliged to sell 5 million gallons of treated water to Johor each day. But PUB this year provided Johor with up to 16 million gallons of water a day as it was forced to undergo rationing.

Yesterday, delegations from the two countries discussed issues such as land reclamation works in the Strait of Johor and efforts in combating haze.

Both Mr Masagos and Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi told reporters that all stakeholders need to recognise that the ecology of the waterway is linked to the value of developments along the shared strait, and it is in everyone's interest to take environmental concerns seriously.

On the haze, Mr Masagos said he was confident the Asean road map on transboundary haze would lead to a "haze-free Asean" by 2020.

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