Penang maintains water tariffs but surcharges up if wastage continues
KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The Penang government promised today not to increase water tariffs despite failing to lower its annual domestic consumption sufficiently but warned heavy users that their surcharges may be hiked if wastages persist.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng reminded consumers that Penang is a "water-stressed state" and urged for wiser consumption to help reduce the state's total consumption.
"All 1.6 million Penangites are urged to use water more wisely at home (visit pba.com.my for water saving tips) or else billions of ringgit are required to build new intakes, dams, reservoirs and pumping stations, as well as to lay additional pipelines to ensure water is available for all," he said in a statement here.
Lim noted that Penang's domestic consumption had reduced to 285 litres per person per day last year from 291 litres but was still well off its 2011 target of 233 litres and the national average consumption of just 203 litres.
The six-litre drop in Penang's consumption from 2010 to 2011, which amounts to some 3.2 billion litres in total, is the state's first reduction in per capita domestic consumption since 2004, Lim added.
The Bagan MP pointed out that Penang's domestic water tariffs are still the lowest in Malaysia with an average of 31 sen per 1,000 litres for the first 35,000 litres per month.
He noted that last year alone, the Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP) had subsidised some RM58.9 million to ensure that Penang folk would continue to enjoy such low rates.
Penang enjoys 100 per cent urban supply coverage and 99.7 per cent rural supply coverage.
But, noted Lim, NGOs have said that Penang suffers the highest water consumption because "Penangites enjoyed the lowest water tariffs and did not value water".
However, if water consumption continues to stagger at such high rates, he warned, PBAPP may have to hike the 24 sen per 1,000 litres Water Conservation Surcharge (WCS), which was imposed in November 2010 on those consuming above 35,000 litres per month.
"As a water-stressed state with the highest per capita domestic consumption in Malaysia in 2010, Penang desperately needs to cut down on water wastage and water consumption," he said.