Monday, September 24, 2007

Giant water-filled caverns discovered

searched by Wee Beng Wah

2007/08/29 NSTP
By : Goh Thean Eu

KUALA LUMPUR: Underground water caverns with a combined size comparable to that of Singapore have been discovered in Batang Padang, Perak.

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said, with the discovery, Perak could supply Selangor additional water to ensure its taps won’t run dry in three years as some fear.

"Huge! The underground caverns are as big as Singapore. You can imagine the amount of water that’s inside," said Dr Lim after the opening of the 4th National Utilities Summit here yesterday.

Dr Lim said the water-filled granite caverns could be tapped for use as early as 2009.

The country’s water resources are depleting fast, driven by population growth and industrialisation.

The demand for water is projected to increase by 63 per cent from 2000 to 2050. Some experts have warned of acute water shortages by 2012.

However, Dr Lim said, the problem could be solved if users cut down water consumption and water companies repaired their pipes to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) loss.

"A total of RM640 million has been allocated for this purpose (to reduce NRW) under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

"I believe we will be able to reduce the NRW loss rate of 38 per cent to 30 per cent in 2010," he said.

Dr Lim said the government had allocated more than RM8 billion to develop the water supply infrastructure under the 9MP.

"I am proud to say that almost everyone in this country has access to safe potable water supply. I am confident that we will be able to achieve 97 per cent coverage by the end of the 9MP in 2010," Dr Lim said.

Besides the water-filled caverns, the government also expects the Pahang-Selangor interstate water supply project to help meet the growing demand for water. Construction work on the project is expected to start early next year.

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