Takeaway for Singapore - we need to conserve water

Malaysia's threat to raise the price of the water it sells to Singapore should not be unexpected (S'pore water deal: Mahathir seeks over tenfold price hike; Aug 14).

This ongoing debate calls for us to focus on our own water generation and conservation efforts.

With additional Newater and desalination plants complementing local catchment, Singapore's water generation will increase over the years until 2060.

Yet, in 2060, our national water agency PUB still expects 15 per cent of our water to come from external supply, that is, Malaysia.

The reason for this is that water consumption is expected to go up too, nearly double from what it is today.

So increased water generation is not the single answer; conservation is necessary too.

From 143 litres per day, PUB hopes the average Singaporean will reduce their water usage to 140 litres per day by 2030.

How do we do it? We do this by cutting the amount of water we use to shower, using mugs for brushing teeth and dry mops with a spritzer, doing only full loads of laundry and not using the air-conditioner, among other things. Water security should never be taken for granted.

But a lower target is achievable.

My household utilities bill reflects that my four-person family uses 6,800 litres of water a month. This works out to 56.7 litres of water per person each day.

Even rounding that up to 90 litres for food purchased, dishes washed and toilets used outside, that is still much lower than the 140-litre target.

How do we do it?

We do this by cutting the amount of water we use to shower, using mugs for brushing teeth and dry mops with a spritzer, doing only full loads of laundry and not using the air-conditioner, among other things.

Water security should never be taken for granted. While the Government negotiates the water purchase and works on water generation, we need to conserve water in every way we can.

Adam Reutens-Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'Takeaway for Singapore - we need to conserve water'. Print Edition | Subscribe