Pulling all stops to cut down on water use in Nee Soon South

Nee Soon South resident Rachel Loh showing her water bill, which runs below average.
Nee Soon South resident Rachel Loh showing her water bill, which runs below average.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Nee Soon South residents participating in a monthly litter-picking exercise, on March 12, 2017.
Nee Soon South residents participating in a monthly litter-picking exercise, on March 12, 2017.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - From collecting rainwater through a funnel by the window when it poured, to reusing water from washing vegetables, Nee Soon South residents worked to reduce their water use for six months last year (2016), as part of an inaugural contest within their constituency.

One of them, housewife Madam Yong Nyuk Kin, said her water bill is about half of the national average, at less than $10 each month.

The 66-year-old was among 51 residents who received prizes on Sunday (Mar 12) for saving the most water compared to the national average for their house type.

"In the past, when we lived in kampongs, we drew water from the well and it was free. But now, everything costs money and we have to save," said Madam Yong, who lives with her son in a four-room flat.

"When it rains, I collect rainwater to flush the toilet, wash my mop, and clean up after our dog."

Madam Yong and other winners received $80 each on Sunday at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The water usage of those who won were generally 40 to 50 cubic metres below the national average each month.

About 250 Nee Soon South residents attended a talk on the importance of water conservation and learned water-saving tips. They also took part in a monthly litter-picking exercise.

"We find that (the contest) has raised awareness. I had residents ask me what the national average was about," said MP for Nee Soon GRC, Ms Lee Bee Wah yesterday, at the event celebrating Singapore World Water Day.

She added that the contest, which took place from July to December last year, came about when there was talk about water levels in Johor's Linggiu Reservoir dipping.

Levels at the reservoir, which helps Singapore meet half of its water needs, hit a historic low of 20 per cent last October.

Water prices are also set to rise by 30 per cent over the next two years, due to the higher costs of desalination and Newater production, as well as the need to maintain Singapore's current water infrastructure.

Said Ms Lee: "I hope that the winning households will continue to develop good habits in water saving and also encourage more residents to do likewise."

Residents such as Ms Rachel Loh, 64,who was also a winner of the contest, said they recall the days of water rationing in the 1960s.

She remembers what it was like to queue for one to two pails of water each time to share among her family of eight. Now, the retiree, who lives alone in a three-room flat, has a water bill of $3 to $4 each month.

"We couldn't just use the water freely back then," she added. "I know how precious water is, and try to use it only when necessary nowadays."