Budget debate: Per capita daily use of water shot up in 2020 as more people stayed at home

Per capita daily water use rose by about 10 per cent from April to July compared with the same period in 2019. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - Each person in Singapore used 154 litres of water a day in 2020, up from the 141 litres they used daily in 2019.

This figure was revealed by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, during the debate on his ministry's budget on Thursday (March 4).

Mr Tan noted that this increase - which comes after per capita water use fell from 148 to 141 litres per person per day between 2016 and 2019 - had been driven by more people staying home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 154 litres of water used by each person per day last year was derived by averaging out water use over the whole year.

But national water agency PUB told The Straits Times that per capita daily water use rose by about 10 per cent from April to July, compared with the same period in 2019.

"This is likely a result of people staying home during the circuit breaker period and the increased frequency of cleaning," PUB noted. Even though per capita daily water use declined after the circuit breaker period, average water consumption has yet to revert to pre-Covid-19 levels, it said.

On Thursday, Mr Tan told Parliament that Singapore should not let up efforts to conserve water, if it wants to achieve its goal of reducing daily per capita water use to 130 litres by 2030.

"Even as we commission new desalination and Newater plants, it is unsustainable for national water agency PUB to continuously build new infrastructure to keep pace with demand as our economy and population grow," he said.

To help households better monitor their daily use, PUB will be installing 300,000 smart water meters in new and existing residential, commercial and industrial premises in seven districts island wide by 2023, he said.

Alerts will be sent when abnormal water use patterns are detected, potentially signifying leaks that need to be fixed, he said.

Such information could help people use the resource more efficiently, Mr Tan added.

He also noted that PUB - an agency under his ministry - will be rolling out new initiatives to get the industrial sector to increase its water efficiency.

Singapore currently consumes about 430 million gallons of water per day, with the industrial sector accounting for more than half of this demand.

So from next January, commercial water equipment such as washer extractors, dishwashers and high-pressure washers, as well as toilet bowl flush valves that are supplied and sold in Singapore, will need to meet minimum water efficiency requirements.

If all businesses switch to commercial equipment and toilet bowl flush valves that meet the minimum requirement, Singapore will be able to achieve approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of water savings annually, equivalent to the volume of about 480 Olympic-size swimming pools.

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