Several factors determine how much consumers pay for treated water in the state. This ranges from the quality of raw water to government subsidies as well as services provided, coverage, population density and terrain conditions, Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohamad told the state assembly.
He was responding to a question by Tan Chen Choon (DAP-Jementah) who wanted to know why consumers in Johor were required to pay an average of RM1.05 (S$0.41) for 35,000 litres of water, while consumers in Penang paid only 31 sen for the same amount.
Hasni said geological conditions and population density were two major factors that affected the cost of water supply.
The 44 water treatment plants in the state have a production capacity of 1,986 million litres a day.
"In Penang, a 1km pipeline can provide water to 391 users and the state's production capacity is 1,386 million litres a day from 10 water treatment plants, while in Johor, a 1km pipeline can deliver water to only 171 consumers," said Hasni.
He said since December, 20,308 km of pipes had been laid, while in Penang, 4,118km of pipes were laid in the same period.
"The costs of infrastructure and operations in Johor are higher."
Hasni said since the water tariff adjustments in 2010, SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd billing records showed that 99.5 per cent of consumers had settled their water bills. This showed that residents were comfortable with the charges.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Puah (PKR-Bukit Batu), in debating the 2014 Budget, differed with Hasni's explanation. He said the water price in Sabah, if compared with Johor, was 300 per cent higher.
"If the difference is minimal, then I would not mind it so much but this is a huge difference."
On a separate matter, Puah said residents of Bukit Batu had been deprived of a post office since the one in Kelapa Sawit closed at the end of 2011.
Puah said residents had to head for Kulai, 33km away, to post a letter.