Malaysian Minister for for Water, Land and Natural Resources (Image from Kementerian Air, Tanah dan Sumber Asli / Facebook)

Johor’s goal to be water self-sufficient will not affect the Malaysia-Singapore water agreement, says Malaysian Minister

Johor plans to be self-sufficient with water instead of purchasing treated water from Singapore, says Dato’ Osman Sapian, a Minister in Johor’s state legislative assembly and former Chief Minister of Johor. At a special session with the Malaysian Prime Minsiter Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed and other cabinet members in Putrajaya, the Dato’ Osman said that details of the plan are still being ironed out.

In the past year, there has been a bit of a scuffle between the two neighbouring countries over the 1962 Johore River Water Agreement (1962 Agreement) which allows Singapore to purchase raw water from Johor at about 250 million gallons per day for RM0.03 (S$0.01) per 1,000 gallons. In turn, Johor buys back treated water from Singapore at about RM0.50 per gallon.

Later, it was reported that Malaysia’s Minister for Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar said that the Malaysian federal government expects Johor to no longer depend on Singapore for treated water by 2022.

He added that in order for that to happen, Johor would need new water treatment plants to ensure that the state is able to meet the demands for water.

“The capacity must reach 260 million litres a day. We already have an understanding that by the year 2022, we will have this capacity,” Dr Xavier was reported as saying on Monday (Aug 19).

Bernama also reported the minister asserting that these measures would not affect the water agreement between Johor and Singapore; that it will still stand until 2061 as stipulated.

Johor’s water troubles

Johor has been reeling from a spate of water issues recently rivers were polluted by chemicals. In March, Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang was polluted from chemical dumping which forced over 2,700 people into hospital. The incident also led to the closure of 475 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions for three days.

Later in June, another incident occurred at the same river, affecting some 100 students from more than 30 schools, again resulting in the the authorities ordering a shut down of all the schools in the district.

On this note, Dr Xavier said that his ministry will be working with the Johor state government to solve this issue of river pollution through better sewage waste management.

Apart from water pollution issues, the state has also been experiencing a dry spell which has led to the water levels at several treatment plans dropping low, two plants nearing critical levels.