Singapore launches fifth Newater plant at Changi, boosting water supply

Newater tanks are seen at the new Changi facility.
Newater tanks are seen at the new Changi facility. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A water pipe that carries treated water to Newater tanks, at the Changi facility.
A water pipe that carries treated water to Newater tanks, at the Changi facility. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A visitor looking at the reverse osmosis systems at the new Changi Newater plant.
A visitor looking at the reverse osmosis systems at the new Changi Newater plant. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The Republic's supply of water was given a boost with the launch of a fifth Newater plant at Changi on Wednesday (Jan 18), which is also the first to be jointly developed by a foreign and local company.

The $170 million plant is able to produce 50 million gallons of Newater a day and will supply the PUB water for 25 years.

The plant, which spans 49,000 sq m or 7.5 football fields, produces enough water to fill 92 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Already in operation, it 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 was jointly developed by Chinese consortium BEWG International, local company UES Holdings and national water agency PUB.

The involvement of the Chinese firm further diversifies the range of companies the PUB works with for such projects.

"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," PUB spokesman, Mr George Madhavan, said.

Mr Ng Joo Hee, PUB's chief executive, said water reuse is particularly attractive because it is a drought-resistant source of water.

"Every Singaporean grade schooler 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."

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

At each of the Newater plant, 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 removes the tiny molecules that remain.

At the next stage, 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.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said even as the Republic celebrates the launch of another Newater plant, it needs to be mindful that Singapore continues to face challenges in water supply.

The water level at Linggiu Reservoir, which regulates the flow of water in Johor River, has fallen from 80 per cent in early 2015 to 27 per cent today. He stressed the need to use water prudently.

"We must press on with water conservation and efficiency, both in our daily personal usage and in non-domestic sector," he said.

"Every drop of water conserved means less resources and costs needed to invest in additional supply."