Penang wants PAAB to expedite the RM2 billion Perak-Pg Inter-state Water Basin Transfer Project

Penang wants Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad (PAAB) to expedite Perak-Penang(SUNGAI PERAK-SUNGAI IJOK-SUNGAI KERIAN) Water Basin Transfer Project to ensure the state will not face a potential risk of water shortage after 2020. PAAB Chairman, Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali had given assurances that Malaysian states that had already signed the water restructuring deal with PAAB be given funds to finance their water-related projects.

For the record, the Penang State Government signed the agreement with the Federal Government to facilitate Penang’s migration to National Water Services Industry Restructuring Initiative (NWSIRI) on 2 June 2011. PAAB is the nation’s water assets owner and manager under NWSIRI.

The Sungai Perak Water Transfer Scheme proposal was approved by Kementerian Tenaga, Teknologi Hijau dan Air (KeTTHA) on 30 June 2012 and endorsed by Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN), and is now awaiting implementation approval from the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department.

Presently, 80% of Penang’s water source is derived from Sungai Muda and this can only meet Penang’s water demand up to the year 2020. There is an urgent need to implement the inter-state water transfer scheme to provide for future water demand, reduce dependency on one source i.e. Sungai Muda and the uncertainty due to recent logging activities within the Kedah water catchment areas.

The proposed Perak-Penang Raw Water Transfer will be carried out by pumping the raw water from Sungai Perak through a new tunnel through Sungai Ijok and Sungai Kerian to be constructed across the highlands dividing the Sg. Perak and Kerian basin. The raw water is then extracted from Sg. Kerian near the existing barrage in Penang state for subsequent treatment at the proposed Kerian Water Treatment Plant to supply potable water for the Penang State.

Unlike Sungai Muda, where water is extracted by Penang from Penang’s side of the border, extracting water from Sungai Perak would require payment of water to Perak. Such payment of raw water to Perak is legally necessary as Sungai Perak is within Perak borders unlike Sungai Muda which flows through Penang.

The project involves raw water and treated water infrastructures. In the water supply restructuring business model – Raw water infrastructure shall be financed via a grant from the Federal Government whilst treated water infrastructure shall be financed by PAAB funds. The total estimated costs involved is RM2 billion and will take seven years to complete.

This project is expected to provide a holistic solution to the future water demand requirements for potable water and irrigation needs of Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), Lembaga Air Perak (LAP) and Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) until the year 2050.

Lim Guan Eng Penang Chief Minister