Water bill won’t go up much, hints minister

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar says a family of four will end up paying RM15 to RM20 a month.

KUALA LUMPUR: Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar has hinted that the hike in water tariffs will be minimal.

The additional money collected will be channelled into reducing water wastage from the treatment plants to homes.

Xavier said the tariffs will be divided into three bands, with those in Band 3 paying the highest amount.

“About 60% of users fall under Band 1. For others, don’t wash your car every day,” he said when wrapping up his ministry’s Supply Bill debate at the committee stage.

Edmund Santhara (PH-Segamat) interjected that Johor had one of the highest water tariffs nationwide.

When Nor Azrina Surip (PH-Merbok) said the rakyat may be unhappy with any tariff hike, Xavier said the hike may only cost 20 to 30 sen more, with a family of four paying RM15 to RM20 a month.

“If we want to ensure continuous water supply, we need to spend,” he said, adding that the hike will be reasonable.

The current tariff is RM1.38 per 1,000 litres of water, compared with the production cost of RM2.31 per 1,000 litres.

He further explained non-revenue water (water produced but “lost” before it reaches the customer due to leaky pipes) is an average 35%.

“In some states, it is at 40%, with Perlis at over 60%. This means that in Perlis, for every 1,000 million litres of water produced, 60% is lost,” he said, adding that some states do not have enough raw water.

For instance, Johor may face some form of “stress” in two to three years if no steps are taken while certain areas in Kelantan do not have enough water, he said.

He said water plants need upgrading and water wastage needs to be reduced. “To reduce even 1% of non-revenue water will cost RM1 billion.”

But to overcome water problems, he said his ministry needs the cooperation of all state water companies.

Xavier said he also needs water companies in each state to keep aside 5-6% from their collection to solve water problems in 10 years.

On the possibility of nine Malaysian cities getting submerged if sea levels rise by 2050, Xavier said Perlis is likely to lose the most amount of land.

This prompted Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) to quip that a lot of MPs will no longer have constituencies.

Xavier replied that more needs to be done to protect the environment from severe climate change.