5 companies and schools receive Singapore's highest award for water conservation

(From left) Carlton City Hotel Singapore executive assistant manager Augustine Cheong, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli and Qifa Primary School principal May Tan after the Watermark Award ceremony at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio
(From left) Carlton City Hotel Singapore executive assistant manager Augustine Cheong, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli and Qifa Primary School principal May Tan after the Watermark Award ceremony at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on March 28, 2018. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Singapore's highest award for water conservation has been given to three companies and two schools this year.

The Watermark Award was handed to Singapore Refining Company Private Limited, United Microelectronics Corporation (Singapore branch), Carlton City Hotel Singapore, Qifa Primary School and Chung Cheng High School (Main).

The winners received the award from Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in a ceremony at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on Wednesday (March 28).

The award, first introduced by the national water agency PUB in 2007, gives recognition to efforts in raising awareness on water conservation and introducing initiatives to use water efficiently.

In Carlton City Hotel Singapore in Tanjong Pagar, staff are not the only ones asked to conserve water. Message cards are placed in the 386 rooms to encourage guests to reuse their linens and towels, hence saving the amount of water used for laundry services.

Other initiatives include reusing condensation from air handling units for cooling towers and using a remote monitoring system to detect possible water wastage.

With these measures, the 29-storey hotel saw a drop of about 4,233 cubic m in water consumption between 2014 and 2016. That is equivalent to over 1½ Olympic-sized swimming pools .

Mr Augustine Cheong, the hotel's executive assistant manager, said that most of the hotel guests are supportive of water conservation.

"Most of our feedback comes in the form of guests' actions. They place the card on their beds to tell our staff not to change the linen and towels. But on our part, we still change them once every two days for hygiene purposes."

For Qifa Primary School in West Coast, its cohort of over 1,300 students were given handmade bookmarks bearing water conservation messages so that they could share them with families and neighbours.

Last year, its Primary 5 pupils took part in a "Water is Precious" project. One task involved them tracking their household water bills for three months, and spreading awareness of water conservation at home.

One of the challenges faced, according to the school's principal May Tan, was that most of the parents themselves were not tracking the bills, since a majority of them had their payments deducted automatically through Giro.

"We found a lack of awareness. A lot of the parents don't check the bills, and when you don't keep track, then you won't know how much water you're using."

But Madam Tan was encouraged by the involvement of the students. "They really subscribed to the message. That's the thing with children. When they believe in it, then they will be more enthusiastic about it."

PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee said it is important to know that water is a scarce resource and should be used wisely, especially "amid the threat of climate change".

"As we celebrate the achievements of the winning organisations, we hope that they will inspire other organisations to explore further ways to bring about greater water efficiency and water savings in their operations."

PUB had launched a guidebook - Best Practice Guide for Water Efficiency - Buildings - earlier this year.

It is the first best practice guide to be launched. Others which will be launched later this year include guides for the wafer fabrication and semiconductor sector, and the refineries, petrochemicals and chemicals sector.

"We believe the Best Practices guides will serve as useful resources for the industries to strive for higher water efficiency," said Mr Ng.