Parliament: Sharp drop in water use in Singapore; water price hike among factors

Daily household water consumption per person fell from 148 litres in 2016 to 143 litres in 2017, said Minister of the Environment and Water Masagos Zulkifli. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Each person in Singapore used 5 litres less water a day last year than the year before - a sharp drop that exceeds the Government's 2020 per capita water use target.

Daily household water consumption per person fell from 148 litres in 2016 to 143 litres last year, said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of the Environment and Water, in Parliament on Tuesday (March 6), during the debate on his ministry's budget.

This means the government target of 147 litres by 2020 has already been achieved. Another target is 140 litres by 2030.

The reduction comes in the wake of a hike in water prices last year, the first in 17 years.

Mr Masagos, who said he was encouraged by the drop in water use, was replying to Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC), who had asked whether the ministry's outcomes had been achieved following the hike in water tariff rates.

During last year's Budget, it was announced that water prices in Singapore will go up by 30 per cent increase over two phases. The first was implemented last July. The second will kick in in July this year.

The Government had said then that the price increase will go towards maintaining Singapore's water infrastructure, and more expensive sources of water such as desalination, as well as to help people recognise the value of water.

But on Tuesday, Mr Masagos said the lower water consumption was not solely due to the increase in water price.

"Our water conservation efforts, like the mandatory water efficiency labelling scheme, are bearing fruit," he told the House.

Under the scheme helmed by PUB, suppliers must label fixtures such as taps and toilet bowls with water efficiency ratings. Most water-efficient fixtures are given the maximum of four ticks, and the least, one tick.

National water agency PUB also has a slew of water conservation programmes, Mr Masagos said.

For example, it piloted last year a scheme involving the installation of automated meters in 500 households in Punggol.

The main aim of the scheme was to provide households with timely information on water consumption, to encourage them to save water. Through a mobile app, residents were able to track their water consumption, and receive updates when periods of high water usage are detected.

Mr Masagos said his ministry is exploring how this system can be implemented nation wide.

He cited the example of Punggol resident Jacqueline Chan, whose family participated in PUB's trial in June last year.

"Through a mobile app, the family can track and take steps to reduce their daily water usage. They have also saved about 8,000 litres of water after being alerted by their app to a leak in their water closet," said Mr Masagos.

The leak was detected within a few days in October 2016, said Ms Chan, 33. In comparison, a manual reading process used to check any anomalies in water consumption would detect the leak only two months later, added the receptionist.

Mr Zell Chang (left) and Madam Jacqueline Chan residents showing the app that they use to track their water consumption, and receive updates when periods of high water usage are detected. ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

Ms Chan and her husband, Mr Zell Chang, also 33, said being able to monitor their daily water consumption patterns was helpful. They live in a five-room flat with their one-year-old daughter and Mr Chang's elderly parents.

Through the app, they found that the two main water guzzlers at home was the shower and washing machine. "Nowadays, we try to minimise shower time and have cut it down from 15 minutes to 10 minutes," said Mr Chang.

Overall, each person in their household now use just 98 litres of water per day, down from the 103 litres last year and the 138 litres the year before.

It has translated into savings too, shaving off $10 from the household's monthly water bill, said Ms Chan.

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