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  The Straits Times 29 Oct 05
Shower a minute less and you save 10 litres
By Radha Basu

Likely national target: cut daily water use at home by 7 litres a person. Govt also planning other green measures

A NEW national water conservation target is being considered - cutting water use at home by seven litres per individual per day. That is not much when you consider that each person uses on average 162 litres a day.

But if everyone here does his bit, saving seven litres adds up to nearly 16 Olympic-size swimming pools daily.

The new target is one of the things the Government is considering to ensure that Singapore continues to grow in an environmentally sustainable way.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday that the idea came from the experts' committee reviewing the Singapore Green Plan (SGP) 2012 - the Government's 10-year blueprint on environmental strategies.

'I have been told that each person can save about 10 litres of water just by showering a minute less every day,' Dr Yaacob said at an event to honour environmentally aware individuals and organisations.

Singapore, the minister pointed out, had taken big strides in its quest for water sustainability in recent years, producing Newater from 2002 and opening its first seawater desalination plant last month. But this did not mean that residents here could 'could go easy on conserving water in our daily activities', he said.

Public Utilities Board director Yap Kheng Guan told The Straits Times the board was already promoting several schemes to reduce water consumption in homes. 'Thousands of homes already have water- saving devices that can control the volume of water that comes out of taps or showers,' said Mr Yap. The PUB distributes these devices free of charge.

Protecting Singapore's freshwater reserves is also a priority. A code of conduct on the use of reservoirs is in the offing. With many of Singapore's 14 reservoirs being opened up for recreational activities, such a code will help keep the waters clean, Dr Yaacob said.

Making energy labelling compulsory is another recommendation that the Government is studying closely. Energy labels tell how much energy a product consumes and could help cut down power consumption. But as The Straits Times reported earlier this week, only about one in five models of air-conditioners and refrigerators is currently labelled under a voluntary scheme.

Reducing waste is another issue addressed by the committee, which has suggested getting companies to recycle their product packaging. Government agencies and others are already providing ways of implementing some of the recommendations, should they be accepted.

The chief executive officer of Shell Marine Products, Ms Loh Wai Kiew, who is on the SGP review committee, suggested ways in which companies can be made more responsible for recycling their product packaging. In Australia, it is compulsory for companies to use packaging that can be recycled, said Ms Loh, who used to head a local waste company. 'Singapore could consider implementing such guidelines,' she added.

The Government will announce which of the measures will be accepted early next year.

They help keep Singapore green

AN AVID conservationist, Professor Leo Tan strives hard at sharing his love for nature with the students he teaches every day. 'If you are taught to love nature as a child, it's a love that may last life-long,' Prof Tan told The Straits Times. 'That's what I tell my students all the time.' The director of the National Institute of Education, whose students will one day be teachers themselves, received a national environment award for championing green issues among the young.

Prof Tan, who is also the chairman of the National Parks Board, was the only individual to receive the award. The other winners were organisations.

Dunman Secondary School and the National Youth Achievement Award Council also won the award for their work with the young. The principal of Dunman Secondary, Mrs Edelweis Neo, told The Straits Times that the school not only tries to teach students the benefits of recycling or water conservation, but also ensure that they share what they learn with their parents and neighbours. 'We have had students going door to door at HDB estates to collect recyclable goods and help educate residents on why we need to reduce waste,' said Mrs Neo.

Promoting young green ambassadors is also a key objective of the National Youth Achievement Award Council, a non-governmental organisation that promotes volunteerism and leadership skills in the young. Since the early 1990s, the council has helped 26,000 young people to take part in environment-based volunteer programmes, its executive director James Soh said yesterday.

However, those dealing with the young were not the only ones honoured yesterday. Senoko Power, City Developments Limited and the Southwest Community Development Council also received awards for their contributions in making Singapore clean and green

More about the Singapore Green Plan 2012 on the Ministery of Environment and Water Resources website.
Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues and Singapore: reduce, reuse, recycle and Singapore: water issues
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