New water treatment systems for Ubin food outlets

A water tank and treatment system at a retail establishment on Pulau Ubin.
A water tank and treatment system at a retail establishment on Pulau Ubin.ST PHOTO: SEOW BEI YI
Demonstration and explanation of the water treatment system to grassroots advisor Dr Maliki Osman (left).
Demonstration and explanation of the water treatment system to grassroots advisor Dr Maliki Osman (left).ST PHOTO: SEOW BEI YI

SINGAPORE - Two outlets selling cooked food on Pulau Ubin will no longer have to boil well water continuously for a minute before using it to cook, after water treatment systems were installed at their premises earlier this month.

Water from those two systems have been deemed safe for the preparation of food and drinks for sale by operators.

Tests are still being run on water from a third system installed at another food establishment. There are seven licensed retail food outlets in total on the island.

This initiative was developed and coordinated by the Siglap Citizens' Consultative Committee and non-governmental organisation Corporate Citizen Foundation, with the support of Government agencies including national water agency PUB.

In December, the NEA required all food retail outlets on Pulau Ubin to boil well water for at least one minute before using it to prepare food after it found a deterioration in water quality.

According to the NEA, testing samples of water drawn from the wells had showed the presence of E. coli (Escherichia coli) and total coliform bacteria, which could result in symptoms similar to food poisoning.

News of the drop in water quality has caused business of stalls to drop about 20 to 30 per cent, said Madam Goh Sin Eng, 65, of eatery Sin Lam Huat, one of the food establishments that has installed the system.

 

While she expects utilities bills for the past month to increase slightly as they had to boil water that they used to wash raw food and utensils, she thinks the situation will improve. 

"People will have more confidence in the water here and will come," she said.

The new system, which costs around $7,000 each, works through a seven-stage process.

A strainer removes large particles and a 50-micron membrane filter removes smaller particles. Then an activated carbon filter takes away contaminants and odour and another filter removes micro particles and organisms.

After which, a 0.01-micron ultra-filtration system removes bacteria such as E. coli, and light sterilisers inactivate viruses and other micro organisms.

A tap will also be installed so other residents on Ubin can use and benefit from the treated water.

After news that the water quality had dropped in December, grassroots leaders, volunteers from Siglap and Pulau Ubin and Member of Parliament Dr Maliki Osman visited households and shops to gather feedback and distribute advisories on water safety measures.

Besides boiling well water, food operators could also use bottled water or that of national water agency PUB, piped from mainland Singapore.