KUCHING: Sarawak’s man-made water bodies will be managed and developed in an orderly way to create more economic benefits for local communities instead of being used for power generation only.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state was keen to learn from Canada’s Ontario province on how to turn its hydro dams into other economic assets.
This is because of Ontario’s strong experience in the management and development of water bodies, he said in a discussion with Ontario’s Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Sylvia Jones in Toronto, Canada on Tuesday.
Abang Johari is leading a delegation of ministers and key government officials on a five-day study tour to Ontario.
He said the state government would seek to collaborate with the Ontario provincial government in order to learn from the province’s experience in managing fresh water bodies, particularly the Great Lakes and hydro dams.
“We intend to send state officials to Ontario to study relevant aspects of water management such as water policy, legislation, scientific research, lake development and environmental enforcement and compliance,” he said.
During the discussion, Abang Johari also said Sarawak was drafting a law to regulate the use and development of the state’s man-made lakes, which would include setting up an enforcement agency with Canada’s standards as a benchmark.
“The agency, which will probably be called the Lake Development Authority, shall ensure that our lakes are properly managed and developed,” he said.
The delegation was later taken on a tour of Ontario’s legislative building where its parliament was in session.
Meanwhile, another group visited the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) headquarters in Toronto where they were briefed on Ontario’s electricity system and OPG’s indigenous relations.
The Sarawak delegation also visited the Environment, Conservation and Parks Ministry for an overview of Ontario’s water policy and the University of Waterloo’s Water Institute to hear about water-related research.
Key members of the delegation included Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, State Secretary Tan Sri Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh and Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi.
The delegation is scheduled to visit the Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric plant near Niagara Falls today.