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S’pore could be hit as Linggiu Reservoir levels reach new low

SINGAPORE — The reservoir that enables Singapore to reliably draw water from the Johor River has hit another all-time low, dipping to 43 per cent from 54.5 per cent in August.

S’pore could be hit as Linggiu Reservoir levels reach new low

Linggiu Reservoir when full (above) and at 43 per cent (below). Photo: Masagos Zulfikli/Facebook

SINGAPORE — The reservoir that enables Singapore to reliably draw water from the Johor River has hit another all-time low, dipping to 43 per cent from 54.5 per cent in August.

Posting on Facebook tonight (Nov 13) after he visited the Linggiu Reservoir this morning, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli urged Singaporeans to conserve water and said restrictions could kick in if the reservoir’s water stock does not recover. If restrictions kick in, the use of water for non-critical activities such as washing of cars, water fountains and watering of plants could be curbed.

“Water rationing exercises are already ongoing in many parts of Johor. If the dry weather continues, it will eventually also affect us,” wrote Mr Masagos.

The historic low of 43 per cent in Linggiu’s 20-year history is due to low rainfall over its catchment area in the past year, said Mr Masagos, whose trip to Linggiu comes only three months after his predecessor Vivian Balakrishnan visited the reservoir with reporters.

The reservoir, near Kota Tinggi, helps prevent saltwater intrusion from the sea into Johor River when it releases water. Saltwater cannot be treated by the water plant further downstream from the reservoir, and Johor River supplies up to 60 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs. Singapore is allowed to draw up to 250 million gallons per day from the river.

In the first 10 months of the year, national water agency PUB has been temporarily unable to draw water from the Johor River on about 100 occasions, due to saltwater intrusion caused by tide levels, said a spokesperson.

Mr Masagos was hopeful that more rain would fall over Linggiu Reservoir’s catchment area, with the Northeast Monsoon expected sometime next month. He has asked PUB to provide another update on the situation when the monsoon sets in, he said.

For now, no water restrictions or water rationing is necessary, said the PUB. Besides importing from Johor, Singapore also gets its water from NEWater, desalination and local catchment areas. The Linggiu Reservoir is built and operated by Singapore but owned by the State of Johor.

When asked, PUB said it is still supplying more potable water to Johor at the state authorities’ request. Singapore is supplying up to 22 million gallons of potable water per day — 5 to 6 million more than before — amid dry weather that has affected the water supply of Johor, which has had to conduct water rationing. PUB had announced on Aug 20 that it was temporarily supplying more potable water to Johor, from the Johor River Waterworks it operates.

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