KUALA LUMPUR: The Kedah government, which had proposed to build a new international airport in the state, is now looking to construct a second submarine water pipeline from the mainland to Langkawi that could start as early as next year.
The intake of treated water from the mainland near Sungai Baru in Perlis is currently being delivered via a 35km submarine pipeline to a terminal reservoir on Langkawi island, which has the capacity to supply 55 million litres of treated water per day.
Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (pic) told The Edge Financial Daily at Parliament yesterday that the second proposed submarine pipeline will provide an additional 50 million litres of treated water per day to Langkawi.
He said the water reserves for Langkawi are enough for now, but may not be sufficient to support new developments after 2020.
“We are looking at the future water supply needs of Langkawi and [plan to start] works next year or by 2016,” said Mahdzir, a former menteri besar of Kedah.
He noted that construction on the new submarine pipeline is expected to take about three years and commissioning is expected by 2019.
Before the project kicks off, Mahdzir said both the federal and state governments will have to come to an agreement on the terms and conditions to migrate Kedah’s water assets under Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) .
Earlier, when responding to a question posed by Langkawi Member of Parliament Datuk Nawawi Ahmad, Mahdzir said the construction of the new submarine pipeline has yet to kick off pending the decision of the Kedah government.
He said the cost of constructing the new pipeline can be borne by PAAB if Kedah agrees to the migration of its water assets.
Mahdzir said Langkawi currently has five water treatment plants, including its existing submarine pipeline, that have a combined capacity to supply up to 80 million litres per day.
In the debate on the issue, Nawawi urged the ministry to come up with a long-term solution seeing that the island is a tourism haven and looks to attract over three million tourists this year.
He also warned that if the matter is not dealt with early, it could escalate to a water crisis like in Selangor. Water was rationed in Selangor for a few months this year due to dangerously low water reserves and the slow process to restructure its water assets.
Mahdzir also told The Edge Financial Daily that Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Perak and Perlis have to date migrated their assets to PAAB.
The federal government has been talking to the Kedah government on the migration of its assets to PAAB and that it is pending a favourable reply, he said.
The migration of water assets by all states to PAAB is to reduce the amount of non-revenue water (NRW) and to ensure that their interests are protected.
It has been reported that states that have done so have substantially reduced their NRW.
According to the National Water Services Commission, it was reported that NRW accounted for 36.6% of all water pumped out of treatment plants in 2013, or about 5.69 billion litres a day.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 9, 2014.