How Johor’s Growing Water Woes could Affect Singapore
Jackson Ewing and Karissa Domondon in Today
In an article published in Today on September 15, 2016, ASPI's Jackson Ewing and Karissa Domondon write that water woes in Malaysia's Johor state could threaten Singapore's water supply.
Since its founding, Singapore has depended on water imports from neighbouring catchments in Johor, Malaysia, through agreements reached in 1961 and 1962.
Over time, Singapore improved its domestic catchment management, created more efficient water-use systems, and brought desalination capacity online. Meanwhile, Johor has transformed itself into a bustling hub second in many ways only to Malaysia’s capital region. These developments have created a new water calculus between Singapore and Malaysia.
Since early 2015, drought, pollution and large discharges to combat salinity have depleted water levels in Johor River dams to historic lows, forcing Johor to seek additional potable water supplies from Singapore on three occasions in 2015 and 2016 and to impose water rations for 85,000 residents and industrial users in April this year .
This shock to the system is spurring a re-evaluation of cross-border water relations, and reveals Johor’s vulnerability to the resource impacts of its own development and the changing climate.