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. PUB is also the national Coastal Protection Agency to safeguard Singapore’s coastline and strengthen the nation’s overall resilience against climate change.
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 recycled 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 storm water 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 5 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 four desalination plants. The fourth and newest desalination plant, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which commenced operations in June 2020, is Singapore’s first large-scale dual-mode desalination plant capable of treating both seawater and freshwater. The fifth desalination plant in Jurong Island will be completed this year 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.
PUB also works with the community and reaches out to a wide group of stakeholders 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 deliver for Singapore a robust, clean and sustainable water supply over the decades. In a move to become a smart utility of the future, we are increasingly leveraging digital solutions and smart technologies to improve operational efficiency and deliver better service to customers. Some of these initiatives include Smart Water Meters and Smart Shower devices for customers to better track their water usage, and pre-emptive leak management system to detect potential pipe failures and prevent pipe leaks.
PUB’s strong commitment to innovation has also 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 over 200 local and international water companies and more than 25 research institutions.
Since 2008, Singapore has successfully hosted the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). As the global platform for innovative water solutions, SIWW gathers stakeholders from the world’s water industry 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.