How High’s the Water, Mama? A Reflection on Water Resource Education in Singapore, pp. 5 of 33

Singapore and Malaysia have a long history of water import agreements that stretches back to 1927 and a new round of water negotiations began in 1998 that were linked to economic packages focusing on recovery from the Asian financial crisis (Tortajada and Pobre, 2011). By 2003, Singapore had begun to look seriously for alternative water sources, including import from Indonesia, and ultimately the negotiations with Malaysia ended without agreement (Tortajada and Pobre, 2011).  With the expiry date of 2061 for the second agreement looming, this has become the de facto planning horizon for Singapore to advance and diversify its technologies as it moves towards the goal of water self-sufficiency.

In addition to water import, the three remaining national taps are NEWater, desalination, and runoff from local catchments. Five NEWater plants now provide 60 mgd (273,000 cubic meters per day) which meets 30% of Singapore’s water demands (Chew et al., 2011) and the PUB expects that by 2060 NEWater will meet 50% of Singapore’s demand (PUB, 2010b). NEWater is produced from the country’s wastewater that is first treated in secondary-level treatment plants and then passed to the NEWater plants for microfiltration, reverse osmosis treatment, and ultraviolet treatment. NEWater is used by Singapore’s high tech industries that require high quality water and also is blended back into the surface water reservoirs. Singapore has two seawater reverse osmosis plants. The older plant produces 30 mgd (136 000 m3/d) and meets about 10% of Singapore’s water needs (PUB, 2010c). A second and larger desalination plant with a capacity of 84 mgd (318,500 m3/day), was opened in September 2013. Together, the two desalination plants can meet up to 25% of Singapore’s current demand (PUB, 2010d). Stormwater runoff is the fourth tap and is now captured from two-thirds of Singapore’s land area and stored in 17 reservoirs throughout the island for subsequent use. Furthermore, all major estuaries have been dammed to create reservoirs, and the PUB intends to capture water from remaining streams near the shoreline, which will increase Singapore’s water catchment area to 90% by 2060 (PUB, 2010e).

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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