Penang to have new water tariff

GEORGE TOWN (Sept 21, 2010): Penang's water authority, which supplies treated water at the lowest rates in the country, is introducing a new tariff system for the first time in nine years, following a Cabinet decision to allow water rates to be raised in five states, including Penang.

The Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) announced today that while there is no increase in rates per se, a water conservation surcharge will be imposed on domestic (household) consumers for using water above a specified limit.

Its chairman Lim Guan Eng, who is also chief minister, said the move was necessary in order to curb wastage now afflicting the state. The surcharge would come into effect Nov 1.

Lim stressed there would be no increase in rates but users who exceeded 35 cubic metres per month would be "penalised" with an extra 24 sen per cubic metre above the limit.

He also said the move would only affect 30% of consumers who have been identified to be wasting water by consuming more than 35 cubic metres.

He also pointed out that PBAPP was currently subsiding domestic users.
"In fact, PBAPP is 'selling' tap water to 80% of its domestic consumers at a price that is lower than cost," he said at a press conference. "In 2009, a total of 395,388 domestic consumers enjoyed water subsidies. The cost to PBAPP was RM41 million."

PBAPP CEO Jaseni Maidinsa, who was also present, said the 35 cubic metres rate was derived from an international standard for a family of five.

The state hopes the new tariff system would reduce the average water consumption per person from the current estimated 286 litres per day to 233 litres.

Lim said the current 286 litres was way above the national average of 205 litres per person per day, and the world average of 165 litres.

"The water conservation surcharge is one way to curb water wastage, encourage wiser usage, promote ways to save water and conserve water resources in Penang," he said.