Johor to stop relying on Singapore for treated water by 2022; will Water Agreement change?

Malaysia's southern city of Johor Bahru from Singapore
Malaysia's southern city of Johor Bahru from Singapore Reuters

Malaysian Minister for water Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar said that the government expects Johor not to be dependant on the supply of treated water from Singapore by 2022, as the treated water in Johor will be sufficient by then.

In March, Chief Minister of Johor, Osman Sapian had stated that the state government is planning to be self-sufficient in terms of treated water instead of relying on Singapore. "We have to make sure that Johor has sufficient treated water and does not need to get it from Singapore, which is why we have to provide new water treatment plants in Johor," he said.

As reported by Bernama, Jayakumar told reporters in Johor on Monday, August 19 that the capacity should reach 260 million litres a day by 2022 and the officials believe that "we will have this capacity."

When he was asked about the effects of this decision on the Water Agreement between Malaysia and Singapore, the minister stated that there would be no effect and the agreement still stands.

As per the 1962 Water Agreement, which will end in 2061, Singapore is allowed to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of water from the Johor River at three sen per 1,000 gallons and sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per thousand gallons.

Johor is also entitled to a daily supply of the treated water of up to two percent (five mgd) of the water supplied to Singapore. However, the PUB said that Singapore has been supplying 16 mgd of treated water at Johor's request.

It should be noted that when the Johor CM said in March that they "have a plan to be self-sufficient but that is still in the planning stage," Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore Vivian Balakrishnan pointed out the facts about the agreement and said that none of the countries can unilaterally change the terms of the agreement.

He said, "In 1965 when Singapore was ejected from the Federation of Malaysia, we took the precaution of ensuring that the 1962 Water Agreement was guaranteed by the governments of both Malaysia and Singapore. It forms in effect part of our 1965 Separation Agreement.

"Any breach of the 1962 Water Agreement would call into question the Separation Agreement, and this Separation Agreement is the basis of our existence of an independent sovereign state. Therefore, Malaysia and Singapore must fully honour the terms of the 1962 Water Agreement, including the price of water stipulated in it."