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S’pore, M’sia pledge to cooperate to ensure reliable water supply

SINGAPORE — With the risk of not being able to reliably draw water from the Johor River due to the below-healthy water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, Singapore and Malaysia have agreed “in principle” to have regular exchanges to monitor and implement mitigation measures to ensure a reliable supply of water for both countries.

The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor Bahru pictured on August 3, 2015. TODAY file photo

The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor Bahru pictured on August 3, 2015. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — With the risk of not being able to reliably draw water from the Johor River due to the below-healthy water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, Singapore and Malaysia have agreed “in principle” to have regular exchanges to monitor and implement mitigation measures to ensure a reliable supply of water for both countries.

During an introductory visit by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli to Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Maximus Ongkili yesterday, both ministers agreed that climate change has presented challenges to all countries.

These challenges include the fact that the low rainfall of recent months had not been able to keep the water in Linggiu Reservoir at healthy levels, said a Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) spokesperson in a press release on the meeting issued yesterday.

Water levels in the reservoir, Singapore’s major water supply source, stood at 49 per cent last month, despite the start of the north-east monsoon season in December.

The low water levels can cause salinity intrusion — or salt water entering the body of fresh water — in the Johor River.

This can disrupt Singapore’s ability to extract and treat up to 250 million gallons of water a day from the river, which is provided for under the 1962 water agreement between Singapore and Malaysia.

Mr Masagos’ one-day working visit yesterday was part of Singapore’s efforts to strengthen its engagement on environmental and water collaborations with Malaysia.

He also called on Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, where they called for “greater collective action on tackling the perennial transboundary haze pollution in South-east Asia”.

Both ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to work together to exchange information and address any potential environmental impact of land reclamation projects in the Straits of Johor, added the MEWR spokesperson.

The controversial Johor Forest City project has since restarted its reclamation work in March last year.

Last week, Singapore said it was concerned that the reclamation work on some of the Malaysian projects in the Straits of Johor may have commenced without the requisite Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In cases where Malaysia informed Singapore that the EIAs have been conducted, not all the reports have been shared with Singapore.

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