Water: From Vulnerability to Strength
aced with the constraints of limited natural water resources and land, Singapore has recognised providing a sustainable supply of water for its people as a vital issue in the 1960s. In the early days, we faced and overcame drought, floods and water pollution as the city grew. These challenges have inspired us to innovate and develop capabilities in water management, turning our vulnerability into strength.
Our experience in effectively addressing our water challenges has earned us international recognition as a model city for water management and a leading global hydrohub.
Quest for a Diversified and Sustainable Supply of Water
Through integrated water management, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, has successfully closed the “water loop” and manages the whole water cycle, from rainwater collection to the purification and supply of drinking water, to the treatment of used water and its reclamation into NEWater, Singapore’s own brand of high-grade reclaimed water.
This has enabled PUB to put in place a robust and sustainable water supply strategy known as the Four National Taps – water from local catchment, imported water, NEWater and desalinated water.
Today, two-thirds of Singapore’s land area is water catchment. Rainwater is collected by a pervasive network of waterways and channelled to the 17 reservoirs for storage. This makes Singapore one of the few countries in the world to harvest urban stormwater on a large scale for its water supply.
The introduction of NEWater in 2003 was a major milestone. This ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water is a Singapore success story and the pillar of our water sustainability. NEWater is produced by further purifying treated used water using advanced membrane technologies – namely, microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection – making it ultra-clean and safe to drink. Today, Singapore has five NEWater plants producing this high-grade reclaimed water for use in industry.
Desalinated water has been a part of our water supply since 2005 when Singapore’s first desalination plant was opened. Today, Singapore has three desalination plants with the third at Tuas opened in 2018. We are also building two more desalination plants at Marina East and Jurong Island by 2020 to further strengthen Singapore’s water supply resilience.
Our approach to water management can be distilled into three key strategies: collect every drop of water; reuse water endlessly; and desalinate more seawater.
Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme
PUB encourages Singaporeans to take joint ownership of Singapore’s water resource management, and help to keep our water use sustainable and efficient.
Central to this is the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme, a long-term initiative to transform utilitarian drains, canals and reservoirs into beautiful and clean waterscapes that are seamlessly integrated with adjacent developments. This creates new postcard-pretty community spaces, offering recreational opportunities for all to enjoy, and turns Singapore into a City of Gardens and Water.
PUB also works with the community to improve their water consumption habits. We adopt a multi-pronged approach to this: pricing water to reflect its scarcity value; mandating water efficiency standards; and encouraging water conservation practices.
Singapore – The Global Hydrohub
PUB has been investing in research and technology to meet Singapore’s water challenges, and this has helped us build capabilities in water management. Water and environment technologies have been identified as a key growth sector since 2006, with S$670 million committed to foster leading-edge technologies and create a thriving research community in Singapore. Today, there is a vibrant water ecosystem with about 200 local and international water companies and more than 25 research institutions.
Singapore has also successfully hosted the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) since 2008. As the global platform for innovative water solutions, stakeholders from the world’s water industry gather at SIWW to share business opportunities, showcase the latest water technologies and co-create solutions.
Explore collaborations and innovative water solutions within a vibrant ecosystem of companies, research institutions and water leaders. Experience Singapore’s “living laboratory” and learn how sustainable water management is essential to liveable cities. Shape the future of water and cities at SIWW, the world’s only integrated event on water and urban sustainability.
For more on SIWW, visit www.siww.com.sg
For more on PUB, visit www.pub.gov.sg
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