$170m fifth Newater plant launched

The $170 million plant increases Singapore's Newater capacity from 30 to 40 per cent of the Republic's water demand of 430 million gallons per day.
The $170 million plant increases Singapore's Newater capacity from 30 to 40 per cent of the Republic's water demand of 430 million gallons per day.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It increases Newater capacity from 30% to 40% of Singapore's daily water demand

The Republic's supply of water was given a significant boost with the launch of a fifth Newater plant at Changi yesterday.

It is the first to be jointly developed by a foreign and a local company. Already in operation, the $170 million plant increases Singapore's Newater capacity from 30 to 40 per cent of the Republic's water demand of 430 million gallons per day.

The BEWG-UESH Newater Plant, which spans 49,000 sq m, or 7.5 football fields, is able to produce 50 million gallons of Newater a day, enough water to fill 92 Olympic- size swimming pools, and will supply water to PUB for 25 years.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that even as the Republic celebrates the launch of another Newater plant, challenges remain.

The water level at Linggiu Reservoir, which regulates the flow of water in Johor River from which Singapore draws water for import, has fallen from 80 per cent in early 2015 to 27 per cent today.

He stressed the need to use water prudently with dry weather conditions becoming more frequent and prolonged.

Mr Masagos said the Government will make adjustments in water charges when necessary, adding that there has been upward pressure because of the rising costs associated with asset maintenance and replacement, as well as of resources like energy and manpower.

"While PUB has managed its costs over the year through improvements in productivity and technology, much of the incremental improvements have already been reaped," he said.

New breakthrough water technologies may take many more years to be proven and deployable, though close partnership with the private sector aids in this respect, he said.

The new plant is jointly developed by Chinese consortium BEWG International, local company UES Holdings and national water agency PUB.

"From the industry development point of view, the more players we have, the better it is as an ecosystem... It is healthy competition that is good for the industry," said PUB spokesman George Madhavan.

The four other Newater plants are located at Bedok, Kranji, Ulu Pandan and Changi .

At each of the Newater plants, treated used water first goes through microfiltration where membranes filter out larger particles. The filtered water - containing dissolved salts and organic molecules - is then put through the reverse osmosis process where a semi-permeable membrane removes the tiny molecules that remain. Next, it is further disinfected using ultraviolet light as an added safety measure to kill any organisms that might remain.

PUB's goal is to have desalination and Newater capacities meet up to 85 per cent of Singapore's water needs by 2060. At present, around half of the Republic's water needs is met by imported water from Malaysia, with the rest met by Newater, desalinated water - which is treated seawater - and water from the reservoirs.

Mr Ng Joo Hee, PUB's chief executive, said water reuse is particularly attractive because it is a droughtresistant source of water. "Every Singaporean student is taught the hydrologic cycle and knows how Mother Nature reclaims and recycles water in all its forms. What we do in PUB's water reclamation and Newater plants is, in essence, copying Nature's way."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline '$170m fifth Newater plant launched'. Print Edition | Subscribe