- The Straits Times
Since 1962, Malaysia has been buying treated water from Singapore at the cost of RM0.50 (S$0.17, US$0.12) per 1,000 gallons.
But the state of Johor is now aiming to be self-sufficient in its water needs within three years, and won’t rely on Singapore for water, according to Malaysia’s Minister for Water, Land and Natural Resources, Xavier Jayakumar.
The minster said on Monday (Aug 19) that the Government is looking at building new water treatment plants in Johor to raise the treated water supply to 260 million litres (68 million gallons) per day by 2022, Bernama reported.
This is the quantity of treated water the state requires to be self-sufficient, he added.
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Singapore’s water agency, PUB, said in January this year that it had been supplying Johor with 16 million gallons of treated water per day – three times more than the 5 million gallons it is required to sell under a 1962 Water Agreement, the Straits Times (ST) reported.
It also supplied Johor with additional water on several occasions, including when its water supply was disrupted due to pollution, the report added.
According to Bernama, Malaysia’s natural resources minster said there was “an understanding” that by 2022, Johor would produce sufficient water for itself, but added that this development would not affect the Water Agreement between the countries.
The agreement, which ends in 2061, allows Singapore to draw 250 million gallons of raw water from Johor daily at a rate of RM0.03 per 1,000 gallons.
It then treats and sells a portion of it it back to Malaysia.
The issue of water prices was raised in July last year after Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticised Singapore’s 50 sen water price as “ridiculous”.
In response, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the price was a “fraction of the cost” of treating the water, the Straits Times (ST) reported.
It costs Singapore RM2.40 to treat every 1,000 gallons of water.
The republic also bears the cost of building, operating and maintaining pumps and pipelines between itself and Malaysia.
Despite the fact that it had lost the right to review the water price under the agreement, Malaysia asked to revise its RM0.03 water price in 2018 – but talks with Singapore fell through.
Singapore said then that Malaysia was seeking to increase the price by 200 times without any intention of striking a deal on future water after 2061.