SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT WORLD WATER DAY 2019
27 APRIL 2019
BUKIT DUMBAR RECREATIONAL PARK
Yang Berbahagia Dato Ir Jaseni Maidinsa
Chief Executive Officer, PBAPP Sdn Bhd
Professor Dr Chan Ngai Weng
President, Water Watch Penang
PBAHB Group Board of Directors
PBA Group Heads of Division and Heads of Department
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to be here today with you to commemorate World Water Day 2019 in Penang.
Every year, we commemorate “World Water Day” to remind ourselves about the importance of water. In 2018, PBAPP continued to meet the expectations of Penang water consumers, by providing 100% urban water supply coverage and 99.8% rural supply coverage, 24 hours a day, everyday… for the benefit of the 1.77 million people in our state.
Penang tap water has been sampled, tested and certified to be safe for consumption. This is why our nasi kandar curries are so good and popular. We are fortunate. There has been no water rationing; no arsenic and ammonia pollution; and no 86-hour water supply interruption in Penang.
So, water-wise, everything seems good. But, even when things are good, we must think about the future. In fact, the State Government and PBAPP are very concerned about the future of water supply in Penang. Our main challenge is raw water sufficiency.
As Dato’ Ir. Jaseni mentioned, Penang has become too dependent on only one raw water resource: Sungai Muda. This river has served as our main raw water source for 46 years, since 1973. Last year, more than 80% of Penang’s raw water came from this river.
Please remember that Sungai Muda is a raw water resource that we share with Kedah. We should always remember that PBAPP abstracts water from Sungai Muda downstream of 14 Kedah water treatment plants and 4 irrigation intakes.
Moreover, Kedah is now undertaking the Jeniang Transfer Project, with a capacity of 2,592 million litres per day, or MLD. When the Jeniang Transfer Project is ready, Kedah will be able to transfer more water from Sungai Muda… upstream of Penang’s Lahar Tiang Intake.
Even without the Jeniang Transfer, it should be noted that Sungai Muda may only be able meet Kedah and Penang’s combined raw water needs until Year 2025.
As such, Penang urgently needs a second, or alternative, raw water resource soon.
Our best solution is to tap the raw water from Sungai Perak, as proposed in the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme (SPRWTS).
There are 5 reasons why the SPRWTS is the best solution for the future of water supply in Penang.
- The SPRWTS provides one solution for two states - Penang and Perak.
- The SPRWTS can guarantee water security in Penang and North Perak until 2050. In other words, it is a long-lasting solution.
- The development cost for the SPRWTS is lower than development costs for water re-cycling, rainwater harvesting and desalination projects of a similar scale.
- In terms of operating costs, the SPRWTS is more cost-efficient than water re-cycling, rainwater harvesting and desalination.
- Since it is an inter-state raw water transfer project, the SPRWTS will be partly funded by the Federal Government.
Please note that water supply project development costs and PBAPP’s operating costs will have a direct impact on water tariffs; and we must ensure that water tariffs in Penang are reasonable.
Penang has been asking for the SPRWTS since 2011. However, in the period 2012 – 2018, the previous Federal Government failed to implement the project. Now that Pakatan Harapan is heading the Federal Government, we are hoping for fast-tracked approval and implementation of the SPRWTS.
On 1st of March 2019, representatives of the Penang State Government and the Perak State Government met with officials from the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (KATS) in Putrajaya.
Both Penang and Perak are keen on tapping Sungai Perak as a future raw water resource. However, while Penang is seeking raw water from Sungai Perak, Perak is keen to sell treated water from Sungai Perak to Penang.
As a result, KATS has agreed to undertake technical studies to determine the best option for mutual benefit: Penang’s raw water proposal, Perak’s treated water proposal or a third “hybrid” proposal… incorporating transfers of both raw water and treated water to Penang and Perak water supply infrastructure.
On our part, we have also stated that the Phase 1 of the SPRWTS must be commissioned by 2025. Remember: Sungai Muda may only meet Kedah and Penang’s combined raw water needs until 2025.
So, it is critical for the SPRWTS to take off as soon as possible. We are running short of time.
As such, the Penang State Government, Penang MPs and PBAPP will focus on reminding KATS and the Federal Government about the importance and urgency of the SPRWTS.
We are aware of the importance of due diligence in regard to KATS’ technical studies. However, we hope that the studies may be completed promptly so that the Federal Government, Penang and Perak may reach an agreement quickly. We need to get this historic project going in a timely manner.
The SPRWTS is a priority for Penang because for the first time in our history, Penang will have a major back-up raw water resource to guarantee water security until 2050.
Today, we enjoy fulfilling lives in Penang because we have sufficient water to support our daily needs and socioeconomic activities.
As such, it is our duty to ensure that our children and future generations of Penangites also have enough water supply to realise their dreams and aspirations.
Penang’s hope of achieving water security lies in Sungai Perak. We are working to turn hope into reality.