The water resources of Singapore are especially precious given the small amount of land and territory in Singapore’s geography while having a large urban population in the city-state. Without natural freshwater lakes, the primary domestic source of water in Singapore is rainfall, collected in reservoirs or water catchment areas. The remainder is imported from Malaysia, recycled from waste water (producing NEWater) and produced via desalination. This “four tap” strategy aims to reduce reliance on foreign supply and to diversify Singapore’s water sources.
Completed some three months ahead of schedule, Singapore’s first desalination plant – the largest of its kind in Asia – ranks among the most energy efficient ever constructed, enabling it to achieve the lowest desalinated seawater price in the world. Opened in September 2005, within its first year of operation the plant has won a distinction in the 2006 Global Water Awards and two of the companies involved have gained industry honours for their work on the project.
The Singapore Water Reclamation Study (NEWater Study) was initiated in 1998 as a joint initiative between the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). The primary objective of the joint initiative was to determine the suitability of using NEWater as a source of raw water to supplement Singapore’s water supply. NEWater is treated used water that has undergone stringent purification and treatment process using advanced dual-membrane (microfiltration and reverse osmosis) and ultraviolet technologies. NEWater could be mixed and blended with reservoir water and then undergo conventional water treatment to produce drinking water (a procedure known as Planned Indirect Potable Use or Planned IPU). One additional water supply source under construction is the Marina Barrage which is a dam built across the Marina Channel. It acts as a tidal barrier that prevents high tides from causing flooding of inland low-lying areas at the same time creates a fresh water reservoir behind it.
Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (the Maharashtra Water Supply and Sanitation Board) to collaborate on projects that minimise water wastage and improve infrastructure in Indian cities and towns. The MOU was inked today at the Singapore International Water Week, a global gathering for the water industry, during a forum designed to promote business opportunities in India’s fast-growing water market.
Singapore has turned one of its shortcomings into one of its greatest advantages. Today, countries all over the world are looking to Singapore for ideas on water management.