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DATE OF ISSUE: 07/03/2006
Statement by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate 2006, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 7 March 2006 - Part 2

Channel NewsAsia 7 Mar 06
Singapore developing new desalination technologies to boost water supply
By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia

Singapore is looking into new ways of desalination that could potentially increase its water catchment areas to 90 percent. It is also building a plant to further test one technology of turning water from the sea, river, stream or even drains into usable water.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said this would go some way to enhance Singapore's water sources.

But even so, the Minister said efforts were underway to make sure Singaporeans continue to save water.

The Public Utilities Board is looking at ways to stop Singaporeans from flushing away water unnecessarily. It may soon become compulsory to install dual-flush cisterns in all new buildings and those undergoing renovations by 2009. The Housing and Development Board will be carrying out a pilot project to have them installed in flats undergoing the Main Upgrading Programme. Dual flush models use less water as it allows users to choose a half-flush rather than a full flush.

A new programme called the 10-litre challenge will also be rolled out this year. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister, said: "This programme aims to get individuals to reduce daily water consumption by 10 litres. I was told that just by reducing shower time by one minute, each person can save up to 9 litres of water."

PUB will also work with grassroots organisations to form water volunteer groups. These groups will visit households to educate them on water saving habits. They will also be visiting lower-income and needy families to help them save on their water bills.

Besides public education, PUB has been testing new systems to further enhance Singapore's water sources. And they have been successful.

Dr Yaacob said: "The Membrane Bio-Reactor, The Membrane Distillation and the Variable Salinity Plant are just 3 examples of recent technological advances which have the potential to drive down cost of water production, enhance our water sources and provide Singapore with a leading edge in the global water industry."

A pilot project is being conducted at this Membrane Distillation Plant which boils seawater and collects the water vapour. This technology is powered by waste heat released by Senoko Incineration Plant. This plant not only uses steam that otherwise would have been released into the air, but also consumes less energy as compared to reverse osmosis that's used in the production of NeWater and desalinated water. As such, PUB hopes that in the long run, water produced this way will be cheaper than desalinated water.

The two cubic metres of water produced by this method has its salt content reduced by 1,000 times. The energy used is also 3 times less than that used in reverse osmosis. This pilot project has been going on since January and if all goes well, PUB will build a demonstration plant after the pilot trial ends its run next year.

Another project - the Variable Salinity Plant - produces potable water from rainwater and seawater as well as smaller streams. PUB says this project can potentially increase Singapore's water catchment area from 67 percent to 90 percent. A demonstration plant at Sungei Tampines will be ready by year's end. The plant from the pilot project has been donated to the Maldives to desalinate water from the sea for potable use.

Yap Kheng Guan, Director, 3P Network Department, PUB, said: "We have a water supply that is very robust and reliable so we are not dependent on a few sources but many sources so really, the promise of these new technology is to open our options widely."

Dr Yaacob said: "If need be, Singapore can be self-sufficient beyond 2061. Besides ensuring a sustainable supply of water, we will also continue to uphold high standards of water quality, water supply security and reliability."

PUB will also be looking at ways to enable the community to better enjoy the reservoirs and waterways by improving the aesthetics surrounding the water bodies. A pilot project to provide landscaping along a short stretch of Kallang River is in the pipeline in the second half of this year. - CNA/ch

DATE OF ISSUE: 07/03/2006
Statement by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate 2006, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 7 March 2006 - Part 2


10-Litre Challenge

11. In addition to the existing programmes, the PUB will roll out a new programme in 2006 called the “10-Litre Challenge”. This programme aims to get every individual, you and me included, to reduce daily water consumption by 10 litres. The “10-Litre Challenge” programme will comprise various initiatives, such as water volunteer groups, a labelling scheme for water-efficient appliances, and promoting the use of dual-flush low-capacity flushing cisterns (LCFCs). Allow me to elaborate.

12. Firstly, PUB is working with the Singapore Environment Council to set up a dedicated web portal to show how easy it is to save 10 litres of water a day. For example, I was told that by just reducing shower time by one minute, each person can save up to 9 litres of water.

13. Secondly, PUB is working with People’s Association and the Community Development Councils for grassroots organisations to form water volunteer groups. These volunteer groups, supported by PUB officers, will conduct visits to educate households on water conservation practices and help them install water saving devices. The water volunteer groups will also visit lower income and needy families to help them save on their water bills.

14. Thirdly, we will put in place a voluntary water efficiency labelling scheme for water fittings and appliances by the end of this year. Like energy efficiency labels, water efficiency labels will enable consumers to make better informed choices before purchasing items like washing machines and flushing cisterns.

15. Fourthly, PUB is looking into the mandatory installation of dual-flush low-capacity flushing cisterns (LCFCs) in all new buildings as well as existing buildings undergoing renovations by end 2009. Compared to single-flush cisterns, the dual-flush models use less water as they allow users the choice of a half-flush versus a full-flush. Based on a market study, dual-flush and single-flush types cost almost the same. HDB will be carrying out pilot projects to install dual-flush LCFCs in flats for selected HDB Main Upgrading Programmes (MUP).

DATE OF ISSUE: 07/03/2006
Statement by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate 2006, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 7 March 2006 - Part 5


ABC Waters Programme

9 On plans to enable the public and community to better enjoy our reservoirs and waterways. In 2006, we will continue the outreach efforts under an umbrella programme known as the Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters Programme, or ABC Waters Programme. Our waterways and reservoirs should not be just for water collection, storage and drainage purposes. The ABC Waters Programme will transform the waterways and reservoirs into vibrant and aesthetically pleasing community spaces with activities for everyone to enjoy and participate in.

10 Members in this House are aware of the concept plans that have been drawn up for Bedok and MacRitchie Reservoirs which were developed after much public consultation and feedback. In the next 2 to 3 years, PUB will be working with the relevant stakeholders and grassroots organisations to implement these plans. With the experience gained, PUB intends to work with other stakeholders and 3P partners to develop similar plans for our other reservoirs such as Pandan, Upper and Lower Seletar reservoirs.

11 Another initiative which will be implemented under the ABC Waters Programme is what we call Watershed Management. PUB will appoint private sector companies with the relevant experience and know-how to manage our water bodies. These Watershed Managers will contribute ideas to enhance and redevelop our waterways and reservoirs. This is not new, it has been done in other countries.

Waterways of Opportunities

12 More can also be done to improve the aesthetics along and surrounding the waterways to provide further opportunities for Singaporeans to enjoy the environment. Projects of similar nature have been attempted overseas with great success, like the Cheong-gyecheon Stream in Seoul and the Isar River in Munich, Germany. As a pilot project, PUB, NParks and HDB will provide landscaping and recreational facilities along a short stretch of Kallang River in the second half of 2006. Learning from this pilot project, PUB and NParks will then develop the remaining sections of Kallang River in the next stage, which could even incorporate water features. With these in place, residents could look forward to carrying out activities amidst the greenery by the river, such as leisure strolls, jogging, or simply socialising with neighbours and friends.

13 Another potential area for redevelopment is upstream of Kallang River that runs adjacent to Bishan Park and the HDB housing estate. By maintaining a constant level of water in the canal and integrating landscaping and recreational facilities, the canal could be transformed into a focal point for residents to engage in recreational activities and enjoy the serenity of the waterways.

14 For the Marina Basin, its strategic location in the heart of the city presents a wonderful opportunity to promote the Basin as a lifestyle attraction with lots of activities in and around the waters. With the closure of the Marina channel, expected to be in July this year, the Basin will become an enclosed water body ideal for recreational activities to take place. PUB is working with relevant agencies through the Downtown Ministerial Steering Committee and other inter-agency forums, as well as with stakeholders to manage the activities in the Marina Basin so that these can be conducted safely and smoothly.

15 In building the Marina Barrage and beautifying the waterways leading into the future Marina Reservoir, PUB, as the custodian of our water resources, has shown us a host of possibilities for bringing us closer to water and transforming the waterfront view in many of our neighbourhoods. In order to realise the full potential of our waterways, this undertaking cannot be PUB’s alone. We need to harness the ideas and efforts of many parties in the private, public and people sectors, especially those living close to these waterways and who have a stake in bringing this vision to fruition. This will take time, and can only be possible if we continue to enjoy good economic growth.

16 PUB is working towards a public exhibition early next year, and all Singaporeans will have the opportunity to share their ideas on how we can make our living environment including the waterways a more vibrant and enjoyable place. This will give new meaning to living in a garden city where beautiful waterways run through it.

Statement by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate 2006, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, 7 March 2006 - Part 3

Related articles on Singapore: general environment issues and Singapore: water issues
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