How High’s the Water, Mama? A Reflection on Water Resource Education in Singapore, pp. 4 of 33

Background to the Water Resource Challenges Faced by Singapore

The beginning of an independent Singapore republic was marked by the visionary leadership of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister (1965-1990) (Oei, 1998; Ang, 2013). Low (2011) asserts that Lee’s focused initiatives to “green” Singapore have made good business sense by reducing pollution and cutting business costs. The “Garden City” was aptly named as its well-developed network of linked greenways and parks evolved from Prime Minister Lee’s Tree Planting Day programme (Tan, 2006).  Joshi et al. (2012) documented the steps towards the successful clean-up of the Singapore River between 1977 and 1986, emphasising that Mr. Lee’s vision required close coordination between government agencies and different sectors in Singapore and a holistic approach to urban development, environmental management, sustainability, and economic opportunity.

The PUB was established in 1963, initially to oversee the provision of electricity, water, and piped gas (Khoo, 2009). After a significant involvement with the Singapore River restoration, which also prompted the development of separate storm and sanitary sewer systems, the PUB relinquished its mandate to manage electrical supply in 2001. Thus, marked the beginning of the Four National Taps water management strategy.

Two water agreements between Malaysia and Singapore were signed in 1961 and 1962, the first of which expired in 2011, with the second expiring in 2061. The current (second) agreement still provides up to 250 mgd (946,00 cubic meters per day (10.95 m3s-1)). This water enters Singapore via pipeline at the Causeway between Singapore and Johor, Malaysia.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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