Putrajaya mulls private sector proposals to kickstart delayed Sungai Perak water transfer scheme

Opalyn Mok
Chow said there were proposals from the private sector to implement the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme. — Picture by Steven KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, April 25 — The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry has received proposals from the private sector to fund and implement the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme (SPRWTS) that has been delayed for seven years.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the ministry has received proposals from the private sector to carry out the stalled project.

“The ministry said it has received private funding initiative (PFI) proposals on how to finance the project,” he told a press conference after launching the Water Security Conference at St Giles Wembley Hotel here.

He said the private proposals to carry out the project may satisfy both Penang and Perak’s demands in the supply of treated water to Penang and northern Perak.

Chow said the ministry is now looking at the proposals to decide how it can be implemented, and when.

The SPRWTS was proposed in 2011 and approved by the previous federal government in 2012.

However, the project failed to be implemented and negotiations between Perak and Penang on the project recently resumed.

“These few years, there was no development in discussions on this scheme so the ministry was informed and the minister has responded positively and started the discussions between the ministry, Perak and Penang,” he said.

Chow stressed the importance of SPRWTS, which will not only benefit Penang but also northern Perak consumers and industries.

“We hope discussions can be sped up and we want Phase One of the project to be completed by 2025 so it should start as soon as possible,” he said.

He added that it was not enough to rely on Sungai Muda for raw water resources while Sungai Perak has more than sufficient raw water.

He said extracting raw water from Sungai Perak will not affect Perak’s water supply while the treated water can be supplied to consumers and industries in both Penang and northern Perak.

The SPRWTS will include constructing a water tunnel to channel raw water from Sungai Perak upstream to Sungai Ijok which will flow to Sungai Kerian.

The raw water will be extracted from Sungai Kerian where a water treatment plant will be built on the Penang side of the border.

“If Perak is interested to sell treated water to Penang, it will be far more expensive compared to raw water,” he said.

Chow said Penang is trying to negotiate with Perak, with the ministry as the mediator, to find a solution so that the SPRWTS can be implemented.

The SPRWTS was proposed to achieve water supply security for Penang and northern Perak until the year 2050.

According to the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP), Sungai Perak was the best option as its raw water resource is presently underutilised.

The SPRWTS was proposed after an independent masterplan study commissioned by PBAPP in 2009.

The “Masterplan Study for Potable Water Supply in Penang until Year 2050” projected Penang’s treated water demand to be 1,483 million litres per day (MLD) by 2030; 1,696 MLD by 2040 and 1,884 MLD by 2050.

The study proposed SPRWTS as a solution as it could deliver 1,000 MLD of raw water to Penang in four phases until 2050. 

The Penang state government and PBAPP have been asking for the SPRWTS to be implemented for many years so as to reduce Penang’s over-dependency on Sungai Muda as a raw water resource.

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