Abandoned buildings of Malaysia
Tebrau Waterworks / Johor Bahru
Visit date / 2016 / 2020 / 2022
Year of build / 1953
Current status / abandoned / demolished
Posted : 11/9/2022  
Plans to build a new waterworks in Tebrau, Johor, began in 1951. The new plant was urgently needed to supply water to Singapore. By 1953, all work had been completed and the facility was slated to produce on average 50 million gallons of water a day.

The entire built operation was of an impressive scale, especially for its time. Not only was there the main working production infrastructure, but also an entire residential area for live on site Public Utilites Board workers and managers, numbering over 70 personnel. On site accommodation consisted of tweleve individual bungalows for managers, and eight, 3 and 4 storey high accommodation blocks for staff and their families. Other amenities included a club house cinema and shop.

Since 2014, the location has sat partially demolished and abandoned. Most of the site is now significantly overgrown with thick lalang making access to most parts of the area challenging, if not dangerous to explore.

Not outlined here is the complicated Malaysia, Singapore political undercurrent of what the Tebrau waterworks and the other Johor based facilities like it, represents.
The old Tebrau facility might be physically fading from the landscape, but the political aspect of its very being will undoubtedly rumble on for years to come between both nations. Please see the link, "Singapore and Malaysia: The Water Issue", on the right side of this page for more information on this subject.

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(May 2016) This was the waterworks main pump house, it sits half demolished with all its main equipment removed. The exterior of the building featured a red facing brick facade, combined with large arrays of green stained glass windows.
(2016) A design feature inside the main pump hall was a broad green mosaic tiled band that ran along the bottom of the interior wall.
(2016) A building positioned next to sungei Tebrau. (Note 2nd last photo below of the same building in 2022)
(2016) Some of the surviving staff accomadation blocks on site.
(2020) An interesting 1986 dated Piping and Instrumentation diagram. The diagram shows the layout of the plants piping, pumps and engine systems. Going by the diagram, the oldest piece of equipment in use at the time seemed to have been a 1954 made Allis Chalmers pump.
(2022 Sept) Sungei Tebrau.
(2022 Sept) Waterworks sluice gate over sungei Tebrau. This old remenant has become a popular place to fish off.
Staff from the Public Utilities Board of Singapore manned the Tebrau waterworks.

There were 2 other PUB controlled facilities in Johor, they were located at Gunung Pulai and Skudai.

After the so called 'Tebrau and Skudai Rivers Water Agreement (1961)' expired in 2011, all operations at these 3 facilities were handed back to Malaysia.
Tebrau Waterworks
Related Links

Channel News Asia
Singapore and Malaysia:
The Water Issue

Channel News Asia / Youtube
1960s news report: Johor River Waterworks opens

This 1960s Berita Singapura report shows Singapore's PUB opening the Johor River Waterworks at Kota Tinggi. The facility would supply 30 million gallons of water a day to Singapore and south Johor.

Channel News Asia / Youtube
Lee Kuan Yew visits Johor water plant in 1963

Archive footage of then-Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew touring Tebrau Waterworks in Johor Bahru in March 1963.


2nd September 2011

These PUB employees spent
their lives here