PM Lee keeping close eye on water supply

PM Lee keeping close eye on water supply
PHOTO: Berita Harian

Even as the nation prepares to celebrate its Golden Jubilee this weekend, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he is keeping a close eye on Singapore's water stocks.

Posting on Facebook last night, PM Lee said that in 2012, he visited the Linggiu Reservoir, which helps to supply water from Malaysia to Singapore, and decided thereafter to build more Newater and desalination plants to "make our water supply more resilient".

He added that another Newater plant will be completed next year, and a third desalination plant in 2017.

PM Lee wrote: "In Singapore, water will always be a precious resource. Never take it for granted, or waste it. Please do your part to conserve water."

The water in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor has been depleting steadily due to drier-than-usual weather in Malaysia. It has now reached a record low of 54.5 per cent of the reservoir's capacity.

This, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan had said on Monday, is a concern because it affects Singapore's ability to draw its full entitlement of 250 million gallons from Malaysia's Johor River.

Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons of water a day from the river under a 1962 agreement. This meets up to 60 per cent of the country's needs today.

In 1994, the Republic built the Linggiu Reservoir upstream of the river to help collect and release rainwater to push sea water back into the sea.

However, national water agency PUB has had to stop drawing water from the river temporarily on 77 occasions since the start of this year, because of seawater intruding from the sea into the river.

The El Nino weather phenomenon is also expected to result in even drier weather for both Singapore and Malaysia for the rest of the year.

This will further affect the water supply from the river as well as Singapore's own reservoirs which store rainwater.

Dr Balakrishnan had said that if the situation worsens, Singapore may have to restrict some uses of drinkable water, such as for washing vehicles and floors.

He added, however, that there is no cause for alarm and that water rationing is not on the cards. On another front, Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, who is attending the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, had said on Tuesday that he followed up on an issue relating to water supply in a bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

Mr Shanmugam said that it has something to do with pricing and water tariffs, and that he would be offering more details in Parliament later this month.

This article was first published on Aug 6, 2015.
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