Johor Bahru – The state government of Johor has plans to become self-sufficient in terms of treated water supply without the need to purchase from Singapore.
The Chief Minister of Johor, Osman Sapian, shocked many with his announcement that his state has “plans” to cease purchasing treated water from Singapore, although said plans have not been finalised.
On March 1, The Star Online released the statement made by Johor’s Chief Minister who said, “We have a plan to be self-sufficient but that is still in the planning stage and cannot be divulged at the moment.” The remark was made after he attended a special session with Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet ministers at Putrajaya.
Based on the 1962 Water Agreement between Singapore and Johor, the Johor River has been supplying 250 million gallons of untreated water per day to Singapore. The island nation pays three sen for every 1,000 gallons. After treatment, Johor is entitled to buy back up to 2% of the treated water (5 million gallons) per day at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons.
It is still unclear whether a unilateral decision such as this would impact the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement. However, based on the actual facts provided by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in his recent Committee of Supply debate, Singapore has been selling over and beyond the agreed range. To date, Singapore has been supplying Johor with over 16 million gallons of treated water per day plus any additional requests. Dr. Balakrishnan noted that from January 2 to 4 of this year, Johor has requested for an extra six million gallons of treated water per day due to the disruption caused by pollution of its water plants.
The actual numbers provided above is the demand that Johor’s Chief Minister needs to calculate for in terms of self-sufficiency. It was also mentioned that Singapore has been shouldering the full cost of water treatment, which was RM2.40 per 1,000 gallons, as well as other infrastructural and operational costs such as building dams and treatment plants which have amounted to over S$1 billion on the water projects in Johor alone.
Read more about Dr. Balakrishnan’s response to the Malaysian Prime Minister’s remark calling the 1962 Water Agreement as “morally wrong.”