Why It Matters

New plant ups water security

National water agency PUB announced last Thursday that it will build Singapore's fourth water desalination plant.

The new plant, which will be built in Marina East, will also treat fresh water from Marina Reservoir. It will have a capacity of 30 million gallons a day.

Building this new plant is part of the Government's plan to ensure Singapore can meet 80 per cent of its water demand through treated seawater or treated used water by 2060 - just before Singapore's agreement to obtain water from Malaysia ends.

It is a move that will also further increase Singapore's water security, amid a climate of increasingly erratic weather with longer dry spells.

Last month, dry weather led to a sharp decline in the water level in the Linggiu reservoir in Malaysia, which helps supply water to Singapore. The water level in the reservoir dropped to an all-time low that month, to only 54.5 per cent of its capacity.

Despite this, Singapore managed to fulfil the nation's needs while supplying additional drinkable water to Johor.

Over the years, the PUB has, at Johor's request, supplied about 16 million gallons of drinkable water a day to Johor. But last month, the stretch of dry weather there led its water regulatory body to ask for help, and Singapore temporarily raised the supply provided up to 22 million gallons a day.

Besides building more desalination and Newater plants to increase Singapore's water self-sufficiency, the Government is also expanding its rainwater catchment area from two-thirds to 90 per cent of the island by 2060.

The PUB, together with researchers here, is also looking underground for possible water sources.

But to supplement all these infrastructure efforts, residents must remember that they have a part to play in water security.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post: "In Singapore, water will always be a precious resource. Never take it for granted, or waste it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2015, with the headline 'New plant ups water security'. Print Edition | Subscribe