The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve should be gazetted as a Northern Region Water Catchment Area to stop logging activities and sustain water supply to Penang, Kedah and Perlis.
He also mentioned the challenge of high per capita domestic consumption in Penang which has increased by 8.2% from 1999 to 2017. “The projected water consumption for Penang is going to double from 826 million litres per day (MLD) in 2017 to 1884 million litres per day in 2050,” he warned. Among the steps taken by PBAPP are the water demand management surcharge to encourage people to use less water and the mandatory installation of water saving devices (WSDs) in all new buildings from 2017.
He said another challenge to Penang’s water supply is relying on only one primary raw water resource, Sungai Muda, with its quality and quantity threatened by logging in Ulu Muda. “Our problem is we are too reliant on Sungai Muda. If anything happens to Kedah, we are in trouble,” Jaseni remarked.
He said one of PBAPP’s strategies is to identify an additional source of raw water, namely Sungai Perak. He stated that Singapore’s strategy meanwhile is to spend on water recycling, rainfall harvesting and desalination which cost millions. “Penang’s water demand is projected to reach 1884 MLD by 2050. More than 80% of Penang’s raw water is abstracted from Sungai Muda daily.”
He said projections indicate that Sungai Muda may reliably meet Kedah and Penang’s combined raw water needs only up to 2025, or earlier if threatened by logging and dry weather. He said the Sungai Perak Raw Water Transfer Scheme, if implemented by the federal government, can supply the raw water needs of North Perak and Penang until year 2050 since it can provide 1,300 million litres per day.
More than 120 people attended, including representatives from local authorities, PBAPP, government agencies and NGOs. The talk was organised by the School of Humanities & Social Sciences and sponsored by WOU’s Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI).