Singapore "will be alright" despite dry spell, but conserve water: Vivian Balakrishnan

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan does not currently foresee a need for water rationing despite the dry spell. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan does not currently foresee a need for water rationing despite the dry spell. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The prolonged dry weather is expected to continue for another two or three weeks, or possibly even longer because weather can be unpredictable, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday. But he assured Singaporeans that "no matter how long this goes on, whether the next few weeks or or the next few months, we will be alright".

He stressed that Singapore's investments in desalination and Newater plants are paying off, with both water sources able to provide 55 per cent of the country's demand regardless of the amount of rainfall. This technology gives Singapore "a safety margin which today we are tapping," he said, adding that this margin was one we did not have just ten years ago.

Because of this, he does not currently foresee a need for water rationing, last seen here during droughts in the 1960s. He also ruled out cloud-seeding for now as it is ineffective.

Reservoir water and imported water from Malaysia make up the remaining 45 per cent of Singapore's water demand. National water agency PUB is pumping 35 million gallons of Newater a day into reservoirs during this period to maintain water levels. Singapore has had barely any rain for the past month and a half.

However, the need to conserve water remains ever important, said Dr Balakrishnan, noting that water consumption has gone up by 15 million gallons a day, an increase of about four per cent over the average. The immediate plan is to reduce this - town councils, residents, and landscaping companies are being told to save water, he said. National water agency PUB is issuing water saving advisories to 25,000 businesses and heavy water users. Singapore's water technology "is not limitless", he said.

"We do need to conserve water and to understand that the good fortune that we have now has not come cheaply, has not come easily," he said, reminding Singaporeans that they should remember the foresight and planning by the country's pioneer leaders that have given the country greater water security today.

He said: "You only need to look at the region to understand that people (there) are suffering and are having to confront this brutal reality (of water shortage). It is a good reminder for us that we need to prepare well in advance."

He added: "If we all do our part, there will be no disruption to our lives."

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