Reinforce water's importance with rationing exercise

The Bedok Reservoir.
The Bedok Reservoir.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is encouraging to read that Singaporeans are cutting back on water consumption ("Use less water, PM reminds as reservoir dries up"; Sunday).

To highlight the water issue, it would be highly relevant now to have a nationwide water rationing exercise.

Earlier this year, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament that it would not be necessary for such an exercise to be carried out, in the light of other outreach plans.

Problems arising from the tragedy of the commons, in which people try to get the greatest benefit from a resource, are often difficult to handle.

Furthermore, water is not a severe problem for most Singaporeans today.

As a result, the issue of water shortages is often not among the top of people's worries.

The water rationing exercise could serve three purposes.

First, a nationwide exercise would reinforce the important message of saving water, serving as a strong reminder of the Government's stance on water conservation.

Second, there would be less panic in the event of an abrupt shortage in the water supply, as the people would have been familiarised with the emergency procedures, strengthening Singapore's civil defence.

Third, education through outreach programmes is not as effective as the first-hand experience of water shortages and their accompanying hardship.

The seriousness of the matter cannot be felt through small-scale exercises, brochures or seminars, especially for the younger generation of Singaporeans.

Tan Hui Ling (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Reinforce water's importance with rationing exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe