TUTONG – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah officially named Brunei’s largest dam on Thursday, dubbed Empangan Jubli Emas Ulu Tutong  (Ulu Tutong Golden Jubilee Dam), during celebrations to mark his 72nd birthday in Tutong.

The $85.5 million dam is one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects, aimed at increasing water supply to Brunei-Muara and Tutong districts to 600 million litres per day.

Located about 23km south of Kg Belaban, the Ulu Tutong Dam and its reservoir are designed to regulate and release water into the Tutong River when the volume of water is low, reducing the risk of shortages during dry spells.

Footage from RTB News shows water flowing through one of the channels of the Ulu Tutong dam. Source: RTB

Capable of holding up to 76 million cubic metres of water, the dam is expected to supply water to residents of the two districts until 2035 or later, if domestic water consumption can be reduced, said the Ministry of Development.

Brunei has the highest water consumption in ASEAN at 380 litres/day per person, compared to Malaysia at 212 litres/day and Singapore at 151 litres/day.

The government heavily subsidises the cost of water, slashing the price by 88 percent. By 2035, it wants to reduce individual consumption to 290 litres/day through the introduction of prepaid water metres.

Empangan Jubli Emas Ulu Tutong is the fifth dam built in Brunei, after the Mengkubau Dam in Mentiri, Tasek Dam in the capital, Benutan Dam in Tutong and Kargu Dam in Labi.

L-R (front row): HRH Prince Abdul Mateen; HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah; HM the Sultan; HRH Prince Abdul Malik; development minister Dato Hj Suhaimi during the naming of the Ulu Tutong dam on July 19, 2018. Photo: Infofoto

The project was spearheaded by the Department of Water Services and Public Works Department, and is a joint venture between Chinese firm Sinohydro Corp and local company Pahaytc Venture Sdn Bhd.

Construction began in 2010 and the dam began full operations in June 2017.

Sinohydro is also responsible for developing some the biggest dam projects in the world, including the $26 billion Three Gorges dam in China and the 202-metre-high Bakun Dam in Sarawak. Once complete, the latter will be the largest dam in Southeast Asia.