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  The Straits Times 27 Jun 06
Dutch expertise to manage Marina catchment area
by Meng Yew Choong

A DUTCH consultant has been hired to manage the conditions affecting water quantity and quality in the 100 sq km Marina catchment area, which will drain water into the upcoming Marina Reservoir.

Delft Hydraulics' $4.8 million contract will require it to predict the impact of development and pollution in the catchment area. The Marina catchment area is Singapore's largest and covers mostly urbanised areas.

National water agency PUB will be looking to Delft's expertise to achieve three goals for the Marina Reservoir: to provide drinking water, control floods and develop water-based recreational activities.

Delft, the only foreign company to win a contract to rebuild the post-Katrina New Orleans in the United States, has also agreed to join hands with the National University of Singapore and PUB to develop a regional water knowledge and research centre. Yesterday, this tie-up was formalised when the three parties signed an agreement at PUB's Waterhub in Clementi.

But while expertise is being brought in, Singapore is also exporting its knowledge in the production, distribution and reclamation of water - an area of expertise already recognised by the Middle East, China, India and Brunei.

A fortnight ago, PUB's fully owned subsidiary, Singapore Utilities International (SUI), clinched a $1.6-million contract to be a consultant to Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Water and Electricity.

As the world's largest manufacturer of desalinated water, the desert kingdom is producing about three million cubic metres of water daily, but recently found out that at least 20 per cent of this output was being lost in the distribution network. The Singapore consultant's job is to help two Saudi cities cut back on these 'unaccounted for water' losses to 5 per cent. PUB's foray into commercialising its technical know-how on water is not the first for Singapore.

In 2004, publicly listed Hyflux was given the rights to build a desalination project and a membrane bioreactor water treatment plant in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Hyflux has also clinched no fewer than six water treatment projects in China.

PUB's chief executive Khoo Teng Chye said other overseas success stories include two consultancy projects on leakage reduction and catchment management given to SUI by Brunei.

The quest to become the regional water hub is getting the support of the Economic Development Board and the National Environment Agency, which offer programmes and financial aid to encourage the birth of commercially viable environmental technologies and products.

A water scientist from the Nanyang Technological University, Dr Darren Sun, is optimistic about Singapore's push towards cutting-edge water research. 'We have already closed the loop as far as water production and reuse is concerned. 'This kind of knowledge is invaluable in water-starved regions. Eventually, many will walk the path that Singapore had trodden.'

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
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