Why It Matters

Flush less water down the drain

Some 9,000 households will be getting their old toilets replaced with more water-efficient ones for free, in a move that highlights how even the smallest of actions - such as flushing - counts in the drive to save water.

National water agency PUB said last week that the non-water efficient 9-litre water closets in eligible households will be replaced with newer models that can cut water use by half, starting this month.

It is the latest in a slew of measures announced to encourage water conservation, at a time when climate change is threatening Singapore's water supplies. The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, which is the Republic's main source of water, had suffered from low water levels since 2014 due to dry weather, and plunged to a historic low level of 20 per cent last October.

It highlighted the urgent need to save water. By far the most controversial move to do so is the 30 per cent water price hike that will be implemented over two phases, starting next month. The hike will affect both industrial users - which account for 55 per cent of the country's demand - as well as households.

But industries are already being forced to save water. Under the Public Utilities (Water Supply) Regulations, large water users have to follow a plan which would, among other things, require them to install water meters to track usage, and follow an action plan to identify measures in water savings, priorities and implementation timelines.

How can households, for their part, save water?

PUB's latest replacement exercise is an indication of a way to do so. Toilet flushing and washing in sinks make up almost half of a household's daily water use, Mr Michael Toh, PUB's director of water supply (network), said last week.

The families that will benefit from the replacement are on community assistance schemes, and live in HDB flats built between 1986 and 1992.

Even though only 9,000 families will benefit from this scheme, the hope is that it will send a signal to others: that each flush, each rinse, should not unnecessarily put water down the drain.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Flush less water down the drain'. Print Edition | Subscribe