GEORGE TOWN, Nov 21 — Penang does not have to build a treatment facility just for the Sungai Perak water transfer scheme, state Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow told the state legislative assembly today.
He said this is because the water supplied by the Perak government in the transfer agreement will already be treated.
“There is a difference between taking raw water and treated water. Perak is proposing to supply treated water so we do not need a water treatment plant here,” he said in reply to backbencher Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng.
Lim had earlier asked why Penang had not built a water treatment plant for the Sungai Perak transfer scheme, noting that other states like Selangor had its own facility even though drawing water from Pahang.
Lim, who was also the former Penang chief minister, noted that it was a conventional practice for a state to have its own water treatment facility.
He described the current Penang government’s decision to have a water treatment plant located outside its state borders as “extraordinary”, saying it has to do with water security.
He also expressed concern that Penang’s water tariff might increase after taking treated water from Perak.
“The treated water to be sold by Perak is expected to be RM1.50 per litre as compared to the current water tariff rate of 32 sen per litre now.
“If the water treatment plant is under the full control of Perak, will there be any guarantee that the water tariff rates will not increase indiscriminately?” Lim asked.
“Even internationally, Singapore has its own water treatment plant when drawing water from Johor,” he said.
Chow said the examples cited by Lim were different from Penang as both Selangor and Singapore were drawing raw water.
“It is a fact that Perak agreed to supply treated water and since we will be getting treated water, we do not need to build a water treatment plant in Penang for this purpose,” the incumbent CM said.
Speaking to reporters outside the House later, Chow said that Perak has finally agreed in principle to provide treated water to Penang after protracted talks that lasted years.
“This is a breakthrough that they have agreed in principle. We have held initial discussions on this since,” he added.
Penang proposed the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme (SPRWTS) about 12 years ago, but discussions had stalled many times over the years.
Chow said Penang would only need to build its own treatment plant if Perak decided to provide raw water instead of treated water.