Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
GEORGE TOWN: A newly proposed water rate increase in Penang has received support from key interest groups, saying it would force Penangites to use less water.
The state’s water use per capita per day is nearly 300 litres per day while the national average is 240.
An expert said Penangites who use a reasonable amount of water can expect to pay a bit more, but water wasters will be severely punished with an increase of close to RM110 on their current bills.
The increase is part of a proposed water tariff review by the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) to ensure water security by 2050 and to reduce water wastage. Penangites enjoy the lowest water bills in the country, averaging RM5.55 for domestic users.
The proposal was published on the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) website calling for public feedback before the federal regulators could okay the hike in water tariffs.
Water Watch Penang president Chan Ngai Weng said the proposal was timely as Penangites continue to be the highest water users, especially residential ones. He said the reasonable increase in tariffs would encourage more people to save water, while the hike for business users would push them to instal water recycling plants.
He said these recycling plants could then be used by factories to recycle water collected by air conditioners or to reuse wastewater for non-consumptive purposes.
Chan, a water resources professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, said the increase for domestic users was small, between RM3 and RM14.86 for those who use less than 35m³ of water a month. It is expected to affect 75% of domestic users.
Chan said those who used more water, between 35m³ and 50m³ monthly, would see an increase of RM19.28 to RM28.11.
He said it was also “strange” to see that business users would face a lower water rate increase.
Business users can expect to pay an additional RM3 to RM69.19 monthly, while domestic users who use more than 100m³ of water, regarded as water wasters, can expect to pay an additional RM109.16.
Chan was surprised to see the charges for those in the domestic category using less than 20m³ being more than doubled. The rate has been increased from 22 sen per cubic metre to 55 sen.
“The minimum 20m³ is considered the standard for an average household, and should not be touched as these are the water saving households.
“Any water tariff restructuring should not marginalise the poor as long as they use below the 20m³ level,” he told reporters.
Consumers Association of Penang president Mohideen Abdul Kader said there has been an urgent need to increase water prices in the state, as it has been too cheap and wasted as a result.
He said this would also fix leaks or non-revenue water in the distribution system, and the building of more water treatment plants to ensure water security.
“We have not been paying enough for water, compared to other countries. Daily, we see people washing their cars with so much water wasted.
“The increase is justified for long-term sustainability. You have to address the problem now and bite the bullet.
“At the same time, I would like to urge that the poor get the necessary rebates so they are not affected by the hike,” he told reporters.
SPAN, in producing the Penang authority’s working papers to justify the hike in a public feedback website, stated the water company required funds to meet future demand, aside from wanting to prevent wastage that could arise from low water bills.
It also noted that Penang’s nine water treatment plants, with a design capacity of 1,599 million litres a day, only drew 1,105 MLD last year, and had a reserve of 31% margin, which was healthy.
The regulator said that despite healthy margins, the adjustment of tariffs was necessary as old piping had to be replaced to reduce leaks or non-revenue water, while more water was needed for Balik Pulau and the upcoming Penang South Reclamation project by 2030.
SPAN also revealed that PBAPP’s capital expenditure proposal to carry out water-related projects cost an estimated RM500.8 million.
Those who would like to take part in SPAN’s survey may head to its website. The survey is open from today until June 6.
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