NUS students ration water to mark World Water Day

Students - and staff - of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth (above), washed their hands and bathed using jerry cans and buckets (right) yesterday as part of NUS' save-water campaign.
Students - and staff - of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and bathed using jerry cans and buckets (above) yesterday as part of NUS' save-water campaign.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Students - and staff - of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth (above), washed their hands and bathed using jerry cans and buckets (right) yesterday as part of NUS' save-water campaign.
Students - and staff - of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth (above), washed their hands and bathed using jerry cans and buckets yesterday as part of NUS' save-water campaign.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

To mark World Water Day yesterday, students at a hostel in the National University of Singapore (NUS) went without running water for 10 hours.

From 7am to 5pm, the 670 students and staff of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and bathed using jerry cans and buckets.

The exercise was part of the university's save-water campaign, which included exhibitions with tips on how to conserve water, and various conservation attempts at NUS, including installing a tank in Ridge View's garden to collect rainwater to water the plants.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who was present to observe the efforts, said: "We need to be reminded that water is precious and we need to conserve it."

He also urged citizens to drink tap, not bottled, water. And if they must take a swig from a bottle, do it from a reusable bottle instead.

A study by the International Bottled Water Association, which is comprised largely of bottled water manufacturers, shows 1.39 litres of water is required to produce a 1-litre bottle.

Mr Masagos also noted that eschewing bottled water both saves money and reduces usage of single-use plastics, which are disposable plastics used just once.

Ridge View also installed 70 smart shower devices last year, achieving average water savings of 5 litres per person per shower.

On a national level, water agency PUB plans to equip 300 new Housing Board homes in Bukit Batok with smart shower devices later this year.

The devices provide real-time information on the water used during showers and are the first of 10,000 to be fitted in new Build-To-Order flats by the end of next year.

A PUB study found that showering constitutes the highest water usage in households, making up 27 per cent of water consumption.

Students interviewed said the rationing sent an important message.

"The main thing lacking is awareness," said Mr Harith Hakim, 22, a second-year mechanical engineering undergraduate. "Water conservation is key and (water) is something we should not take for granted."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2018, with the headline 'NUS students ration water to mark World Water Day'. Print Edition | Subscribe