'Significant risk' of Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir drying out this year: Vivian

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 10 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE — There is a “significant risk” that Linggiu Reservoir in Johor may run out of water this year if 2017 turns out to be a dry year, and that could pose severe problems for Singapore and Malaysia, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Monday (Jan 9).

If water levels in the reservoir — which discharges water into the Johor River to supplement its flow — hits 0 per cent, there will be many more instances when national water agency PUB will not be able to draw Singapore’s daily entitlement of raw water from the Johor River. Johor’s Semangar and Logi Air water treatment plants will also be affected, he said.

“Given the importance of Linggiu Reservoir to Singapore’s overall water supply, the Singapore Government is watching the situation closely, and has raised the matter with the Malaysian government, most recently during the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat on Dec 13,” Dr Balakrishnan said in a written response to Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng’s (Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency) parliamentary query on Singapore and Malaysia’s ability to fulfil their obligations under the 1962 Water Agreement.

He also said the Malaysian government had reaffirmed its commitment to upholding Singapore’s rights under the 1962 agreement, and plans to put in place schemes to increase the yield of the Johor River and ensure that the Republic can abstract its entitlement even during periods of dry weather.

Under the agreement, Singapore’s PUB may draw 250 million gallons of raw water from the Johor River daily. In return, Johor is entitled to receive a daily supply of treated water of up to 2 per cent — or about five million gallons a day — of the water supplied to Singapore.

But even in instances when the PUB could not draw its entitlement during dry seasons, Singapore has, out of goodwill, been providing Johor with treated water exceeding its entitlement — regularly supplying 16 million gallons a day. It has also, at Johor’s request, supplied an extra five to six million gallons of treated water daily on several occasions, such as in June and July last year because of dry weather, as well as during the partial shutdown of Johor’s water treatment plants for monthly maintenance.

The Johor River, however, is unable to sustain the abstractions from Singapore and Johor, even with the Johor River Barrage, which became operational last August to help fend off salinity intrusions. As a result, PUB has been discharging more water from the Linggiu Reservoir, which it operates, to support the present rate of abstraction.

That has led to a drastic drop in water levels in recent years, from 84 per cent at the start of 2015, to 49 per cent at the start of last year, to the lowest recorded level of 20 per cent last October. As of Jan 1, it stands at 27 per cent, and Dr Balakrishnan said “there is significant risk that Linggiu Reservoir may fail (i.e. drop to 0 per cent) in 2017 if it turns out to be a dry year”.

Singapore will cooperate with Malaysia to achieve a “mutually beneficial outcome”, he said, with senior officials of both water ministries working closely to sustain the water supply.


'Significant risk' Linggiu Reservoir may dry out this year: Vivian Balakrishnan
Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE: There is a "significant risk" that the water supply from Johor's Linggiu Reservoir may run out in 2017 if it turns out to be a dry year, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Monday (Jan 9).

In a written Parliamentary reply to Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC Seah Kian Peng, Dr Balakrishnan said the water level at the reservoir stood at 27 per cent as of Jan 1. Should it drop to zero, this could cause "severe problems" for both Singapore and Malaysia, he added.

According to the 1962 Water Agreement between the two countries, Singapore water agency PUB has the exclusive right to draw up to 250 million gallons (mgd) of water from the Johor River each day. In return, Johor is entitled to buy treated water of the same volume as up to 2 per cent of the water extracted by Singapore on any given day, or about 5 mgd if Singapore draws its full entitlement of water from the Johor River.

Dr Balakrishnan said that out of goodwill, Singapore had in practice supplied the Malaysian state with treated water in excess of Johor’s entitlement, even during dry weather when PUB was unable to abstract the full 250 mgd it was entitled to daily.

In fact, Singapore had been regularly supplying Johor with 16 mgd of treated water in addition to a further 5 to 6 mgd of treated water on a case-by-case basis at Johor’s request, the minister said.

Even though a new barrage at the river became operational last August to keep out salinity intrusions, the river is unable to sustain abstractions from both PUB and Johor's Semangar and Loji Air water treatment plants, which are upstream of PUB’s waterworks and also draw from the river.

Hence, the minister said PUB has been extracting more water from the Linggiu Reservoir to support its rate of abstraction, resulting in drastically dropping water levels at the reservoir from 84 per cent at the start of 2015, to 49 per cent at the start of 2016, and the lowest recorded level of 20 per cent in October last year.

Should the Linggiu Reservoir completely dry up, there will be many more occasions when PUB will be unable to abstract the 250 mgd that it is entitled to daily, Dr Balakrishnan said.

According to Dr Balakrishnan, the Government is watching the situation closely given the importance of Linggiu Reservoir to Singapore’s overall water supply. It has also raised the matter with the Malaysian government, most recently during the Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat on Dec 13 last year.

The minister said that Singapore will cooperate with Malaysia to achieve a "mutually beneficial outcome".

"The senior officials of our water ministries will discuss and identify possible solutions. Our agencies have an excellent working relationship, and will continue to work closely together to sustain our water supply," he added.

- CNA/mz


Failure of Linggiu Reservoir will cause 'severe problems'
Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Jan 17;

There is a significant risk that the water level in Johor's Linggiu Reservoir could fall to zero if 2017 is a dry year, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

There is a significant risk that the water level in Johor's Linggiu Reservoir could fall to zero if 2017 is a dry year, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.

The water level in Linggiu Reservoir stood at 27 per cent as of Jan 1, he said in a written reply.

Its water level has dropped drastically over the past few years, from 84 per cent at the start of 2015 to the lowest recorded level of 20 per cent in October last year.

Should the Linggiu Reservoir fail, there will be "many more occasions" when it will not be possible for national water agency PUB to draw its entitlement of 250 million gallons per day from the Johor River, he added.

Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) had asked whether the recent low water levels would affect the ability of both countries to meet their obligations under the water agreement.

Dr Balakrishnan said the water supply to Johor's Semangar and Loji Air water treatment plants will also be affected, adding: "This will cause severe problems for both Malaysia and Singapore."

The Government is watching the situation closely and has raised the matter with the Malaysian government, most recently at last month's Leaders' Retreat.

Singapore will cooperate with Malaysia to achieve a "mutually beneficial outcome", he said.

Officials will discuss and identify possible solutions, he added.

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

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