SINGAPORE - The Singapore Sports Hub saw a flurry of activity on Saturday morning as over 6,000 people took part in celebrations to mark World Water Day. Participants could kayak for free, join in a mass Zumba event or visit educational booths, among other activities that aimed to spread the message of water conservation.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean flagged off a dragon boat race before launching Singapore World Water Day.
In his speech to visitors, he lauded Singapore's first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, for pushing the country towards water self-sufficiency decades ago, as he highlighted the importance of saving water.
He noted that Singapore experienced a significant dry spell last year, with February 2014 the driest month in almost 150 years. There was a repeat of dry weather earlier this year, although it was less severe, he added.
Water demand is expected to almost double by 2060 from the current 400 million gallons a day (mgd). Singapore is investing in infrastructure ahead of demand, he said.
The completion of a second NEWater plant at Changi in 2016 will see NEWater capacity increase by another 50mgd, while a third desalination plant will add another 30mgd to Singapore's water supply when completed in 2017.
Mr Teo, who is also Minister for Home Affairs, encouraged visitors to practise simple water-saving habits such as washing clothes on a full load at home.
He also had a special message for Mr Lee, who is critically ill in Singapore General Hospital after being hospitalised for severe pneumonia on Feb 5 and whose condition worsened on Saturday afternoon, as revealed in a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
"Right here on this river in the 60s and 70s where the water was black, oily and dirty, he had the vision to think of this place as a beautiful bay that we could clean up and enjoy," Mr Teo said, referring to the Kallang River next to the Sports Hub.
"With cooperation from everyone, this is what we have today - a beautiful bay with life-giving water. Let us all wish Mr Lee strength for his recovery."