Over the next five years, Sarawak has planned to roll out a budget of RM18 billion towards more water supply projects under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
In addition, the state’s Utilities Ministry is looking to set up a new entity to consolidate the operation and management of water supply services, which are currently operated by four different entities, for the whole of Sarawak.
These are the Sarawak Water Supply Grid; Sarawak Alternative Rural Water Supply; the extension of water pipelines to communities which can be connected to the existing water supply network system; and the non-revenue water management programme.
Under the plan, a new Kuching water treatment plant in Landeh, estimated to cost RM990mil, will be built. In addition, the government is expected to spend RM234mil for the upgrading of the existing Kuching Water Board’s Batu Kitang water treatment plant.
According to Sarawak Utilities Minister Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom (pic), these two major projects are expected to get off the grounds next year.
“The construction of the new Landeh water treatment plant is necessary in order to provide adequate clean and treated water to residents in and around the Borneo Highland areas, ” he said when visiting the Batu Kitang water treatment plant.
Apart from these projects, Rundi said his ministry has embarked on a holistic non-revenue water management programme, which is aimed at reducing Sarawak’s non-revenue water to 25%.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan period, the Sarawak government approved RM6.1bil to fund 704 water projects, including new water treatment plants, supply distribution network system, upgrading works to water supply facilities, pipe replacement and non-revenue water management.
Rundi said 55% of the 704 projects had been completed, while the remaining 45% of the projects are in various stages of implementation.
He said the government aimed to supply treated water to its entire population by 2025. At present, it is estimated that only 84.1% of the state’s population have access to treated water supply.
“Providing clean and treated water throughout Sarawak is a daunting task, as half of its population live in rural areas that are hilly, rugged and distant, ” he said.
Rundi said several water-stressed areas that were recently connected to the water grid supply system still experienced problems such as supply interruptions, low water pressure and pipe bursts, and the authorities are currently working at resolving them.