Penang and Perak ready to start water transfer discussions, Dewan Rakyat told

KUALA LUMPUR: The Penang and Perak state governments have indicated readiness to start discussions on the proposed Sungai Perak Water Transfer Scheme, says Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

He said this was conveyed by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad and Penang exco Zairil Khir Johari during the recent National Water Council chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“I have received indications from both state governments that this discussion can start," said Nik Nazmi in Parliament during Minister Question Time on Thursday (Nov 2) morning.

Nik Nazmi said the two state governments have to take initiative to begin talks.

"The Federal government is ready to act as a facilitator,” he added.

Nik Nazmi was responding to a supplementary question by Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan), who asked whether the government will expedite the Sungai Perak Water Transfer Scheme.

Last month, the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) classified seven reservoirs supplying water as being “high risk”.

SPAN chairman Charles Santiago said the reservoirs are Pedu and Muda in Kedah; Asahan, Jus and Durian Tunggal in Melaka; Linggiu in Johor and Mengkuang dam on the Penang mainland.

Meanwhile, Nik Nazmi said inter-party agreements between state governments should be strengthened to ensure continuous water supplies in several states.

“If we look at the high non-revenue water rates in many states, it’s evident that there has to be a cross-party agreement in discussions between state governments to reconsider water tariffs in the states.

“At the federal level, we will prepare a Cabinet paper on this matter,” added Nik Nazmi.

At the same time, Nik Nazmi said Penang’s water supply is affected due to its reliance on water sources from Sungai Muda in Kedah.

“The main issue is that it lacks a large water catchment area. As a small state, it still depends on Sungai Muda in Kedah, even though it has a large population and a rapidly growing industrial sector.

“So, there’s a need to diversify water sources. It’s important for discussions between Perak and Penang to ensure better water supplies,” said Nik Nazmi.

“Maybe because the size of Penang is small, therefore (its water levels) are at an acceptable level. But in terms of water supplies, it is at a critical stage,” added Nik Nazmi.

Sungai Muda is the main raw water source for Kedah and Penang.

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