Minister’s proposal on Penang’s water supply woes makes no sense, says Bukit Mertajam MP

Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam Steven Sim Chee Keong. Photo courtesy of Steven Sim Facebook.

PENANG, July 29 – The proposal made by Minister of Environment and Water Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man that the Penang state government explore the use of groundwater for its water supply, is extremely irresponsible and potentially harmful for the state and people of Penang, said the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam, Steven Sim Chee Keong.

He said this in response to a media report in which the Minister was quoted proposing that Penang follow the steps of the Kelantan government which has been sourcing groundwater to meet the state’s demand for water.

“The proposal not only makes no sense but could prove to be disastrous for the people and state of Penang,” Sim said.

The minister needs to only read the reports by the Federal Government itself such as the National Water Resources Survey 2000-2050 (2000), Review of the National Water Resources 2000-2050 and the Formulation of National Water Resources Policy (2011) to know that the quantity of groundwater in Penang is insufficient to accommodate domestic water demand, he said.

Secondly, removing groundwater will cause land subsidence, which will damage existing environment, infrastructure and buildings.

Besides, with the issue of rising seawater becoming more serious, the risk of flooding will also go up with any land subsidence.

Studies have shown that underground water intake carried out in the northern part of Kelantan had caused the ground to sink up to 4.22 millimetres per year.

Another study involving 99 cities has shown that underground water intake is a major factor resulting in submerged land events that occur at a rapid rate.

Sim also pointed out a report saying that one of the reasons for Indonesia to transfer its capital to Kalimantan from Jakarta was due to underground water outflows that were causing the city to sink further.

“In fact, the solution to the water supply issue in Penang is through the Sungai Perak Raw Water Channeling Scheme (SPRWTS) which has been submitted by the Penang State Government to the Federal Government. This scheme will not only provide a guarantee of water supply to Penang but also for the northern regions of Perak until 2050.”

The Federal Government however has not supported this proposal.

Sim also called on Tuan Ibrahim to take up the SPRWTS proposal and play mediator between Perak and Penang as part of his responsibility being the minister for environment and water.