Fifth Singapore desalination plant in the pipeline

Located on Jurong Island, it will add 30 million gallons of water per day and help country cope with climate change

PowerSeraya's Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination plant on Jurong Island. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore will build a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island to enhance its resilience against climate change.

Expected to be built around 2020, the plant will add 30 million gallons of water per day - or about 7 per cent of Singapore's current water demand of 430 million gallons a day.

The plant was announced yesterday by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli at the closing session of the Water Leaders Summit held during the Singapore International Water Week. With climate change, there is a need to develop water resources which are weather-resilient and weather-independent, he said.

In the past two years, desalination and Newater plants, which do not depend on rainfall, have helped mitigate the impact of Malaysia's dry weather on Singapore's water supply, he said.

Currently, imported water from Malaysia accounts for about half of Singapore's water needs, while desalination and Newater can meet up to 55 per cent of Singapore's water needs.

Jurong plant seen serving industry

But the Government hopes to increase the latter to 85 per cent by 2060, when the demand for water is expected to double.

National water agency PUB has already awarded a tender to study the development of the latest desalination facility.

Singapore currently has two desalination plants in Tuas.

Its third desalination plant in Tuas will be completed next year, while the fourth in Marina East will be built in 2019 (see graphic).

PUB is exploring the feasibility of co-locating the latest desalination plant with an existing power plant on Jurong Island, said Mr Masagos. This could help to reduce the amount of energy needed to run the desalination plant.

"It's important for us to be close to a power system or power grid. By co-locating, we will be able to use either the steam generator, or the electricity that we can get directly from the power plant," he said.

Associate Professor Darren Sun of Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering said building the fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island will serve water needs in the industrial sector.

This is especially so as the non-domestic sector is projected to account for 70 per cent of Singapore's water demand by 2060, he noted.

Separately, Mr Masagos launched the Singapore Water Academy yesterday. It will provide courses for engineers and technicians in the water industry from Singapore and around the world. Courses are expected to start next year.

Urban and infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong and the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise signed memorandums of understanding with the academy yesterday. They will tap the academy's expertise to conduct training for their staff and clients.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline Fifth Singapore desalination plant in the pipeline. Subscribe