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  Channel NewsAsia 22 Aug 06
Environment, water industry players upbeat over expansion overseas
By Johnson Choo

Today Online 23 Aug 06
World taps on Singapore

PUB turns consultant on water management as its system wins recognition
Loh Chee Kong cheekong@newstoday.com.sg

The Public Utilities Board (PUB) is increasingly taking on the role of an international consultant as Singapore's water management system gets recognised overseas.

Apart from the US$16-billion ($25-billion) contract that its international arm ? the Singapore Utilities International (SUI)--clinched with Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Water and Electricity, more countries are also examining Singapore's system. These countries include Brunei, Indonesia, China, Vietnam and India, a PUB spokesperson told Today.

"Singapore is increasingly being seen as a model of sustainable water management internationally," she said. "Through collaborative projects with SUI, they study and learn from PUB on the best practices in water and wastewater resource management and how we successfully overcome the limitations in water supply."

PUB is looking to export Singapore's capabilities to growing markets, especially in the Middle East and China, she added. The latest boost came from the ongoing Stockholm World Water Week--an annual global meeting of water experts--where a 14-page journal about Singapore's system will be distributed to the 140 participants.

It tells of how Singapore not only overcomes the limitations of its water resources, but grows its resources. PUB's chief executive Khoo Teng Chye will share PUB's "integrated water management" at the meeting.

The journal was the work of renowned international water management guru Professor Asit K Biswas, who heads a Mexico-based global think tank in water management. A senior advisor to 18 governments and numerous international organisations, the 67-year-old's sterling resume consists several prestigious global awards and a Man of the Year Award that Canada bestowed on him recently. He will be receiving the US$150,000 Stockholm Water Prize--the Nobel Prize equivalent in water management--tomorrow.

Described by the organisers of the conference as someone who "constantly challenges the status quo", Prof Biswas said that he was not someone who would chew on dogma. But the hard-to-please chief editor of the International Journal of Water Resources Development was won over by Singapore's water management system and in particular, its "unique" water tariff structure.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Prof Biswas said: "The thing that strikes me most is its water pricing policy. In most parts of the world, the tariff structure neither promotes water conservation nor economic and political independence in the institution."

The journal lauded PUB's demand management policy that penalises households who use water excessively, with the poor receiving a targeted subsidy. It also noted that Singapore's commercial and industrial users do not subsidise domestic users, unlike many other countries.

With its "Four National Taps" strategy, consisting of local reservoirs, water from Johor Bahru, NEWater and desalinated water, Singapore is one of the few countries to manage its supply sources "in their totality" by protecting and expanding its water sources, the journal said.

The analysis identified the PUB's human resource management, anti-corruption measures such as a "good renumeration package", and its autonomy away from the state as the critical strengths in creating an "exemplary" system in terms of performance, transparency and accountability.

Channel NewsAsia 22 Aug 06
Environment, water industry players upbeat over expansion overseas
By Johnson Choo

Players in the environment and water industry are generally upbeat over expansion overseas.

This is because Singapore has built up a good reputation for water management and development of advanced water technologies, they say.

Using proprietary environmental technology, Keppel Integrated Engineering has been able to burn waste and produce up to 100 percent more electricity than its competitors. And that has helped the company corner some 70 percent of the waste-to-energy market in China.

Keppel Integrated says its success can be attributed to the competitive environment back home. Chua Chee Wui, CEO, Keppel Integrated Engineering, said: "The fact that it is competitive forced all the market players to be a lot more efficient; focus on cost leadership; focus on technology innovation. This sort of competitive spirit spurs the players in Singapore, including Keppel, on to greater heights. This means if we can survive in Singapore and do extremely well in Singapore, I think we have a very good chance of doing well in other markets."

But growth and expansion are not just limited to the big players.

A medium-sized company like Dayen Environmental has also benefited. Over the years, it has grown from a system integrator to one that is now steeped in research and development. With its team of some 60 engineers, Dayen designs advanced water reclamation and treatment plants. These include the newest demonstration unit for the Brackish & Seawater desalination plant at Sungei Tampines.

John Lee, Chairman, Dayen Environmental, said: "Internationally, there are a lot of competitors. So basically by going through R&D, we have new processes, new way of treating water which will bring down cost for treatment."

Demand for potable water is rising exponentially in markets like the Middle East, China and India. And industry players say that being able to keep costs down is one key factor that will help Singapore water companies expand their global reach. - CNA/ir

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