Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

Water-efficient toilet bowls, smart shower devices for homes

6,000 older flats may see reduced water bills after bowl change; 10,000 new homes to track usage with devices

A rainshower head shower. PHOTO: HANSGROHE
GOING THE EXTRA MILE: I have been inspired by the many stories of people who have gone the extra mile to conserve water... This is the right spirit. We should do more together. - MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES MASAGOS ZULKIFLI

Old flats will get new toilet bowls as part of the national push to save water. In another move, intelligent devices will help people track how much water they use as they shower.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, in announcing both initiatives yesterday, said Singapore could do more to reduce water usage.

"I have been inspired by the many stories of people who have gone the extra mile to conserve water... This is the right spirit. We should do more together," he said during the debate on his ministry's budget.

The first effort involves replacing non water-efficient toilet bowls in Housing Board flats built between 1986 and 1992, occupied by lower- income households.

PUB said details about both projects will be announced later this year.

The existing, single-flush 9-litre toilet bowls in these flats will be replaced with more efficient, dual- flush ones that have a capacity of 4 litres. This is expected to reduce monthly water bills by up to 10 per cent. Such a replacement is expected to save 5 litres for each full flush, and about 6,000 flats may benefit.

The other project involves installing smart shower devices in 10,000 new homes. These devices tell people how much water they are using as they shower. Both schemes come under national water agency PUB.

PUB also clarified changes to water usage calculations, after Mr Masagos revealed slightly lower per capita water usage.

Last year, PUB excluded water usage in dormitories and common areas when calculating per capita daily water usage, to better reflect water consumption within household residential premises.

Based on this new formula, each person in Singapore used about 149 litres of water a day in 2015, less than the initial reported figure of 151 litres. The figure declined to 148 litres last year. However, it remains some way off from the 2030 target of 140 litres a day, Mr Masagos said yesterday.

"My ministry and PUB have a suite of measures - in addition to right pricing - to promote greater water savings for households and businesses," he said. The Government had earlier announced that PUB will raise water prices by 30 per cent over the next two years.

Mr Masagos was responding to queries raised by six MPs, including Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim (Nee Soon GRC) and Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC), on how lower-income households can cope with increased water prices.

The installation of the smart shower devices follows an earlier study that PUB did with the National University of Singapore, which showed that a person could save up to 5 litres of water a day using such devices. To further help people save water at home, Mr Masagos said PUB will start to phase out less water-efficient products.

PUB will raise the minimum standards of water fittings to two-tick products, up from one-tick, from April 2019. The tick system awards more ticks to more water-efficient products. PUB will also extend such labelling requirements to dishwashers from October next year.

In response to questions from Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) on the Republic's plans to cope with unpredictable and intense rainfall, Mr Masagos said PUB will start drainage improvement works at another 27 locations. Such works have already been conducted at about 300 locations islandwide over the past four years.

The Stamford Detention Tank - an underground concrete tank that can hold up to 15 Olympic-size pools worth of rainwater - will also be ready this year. The Stamford Diversion Canal and Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal will be ready next year.

"These works, when ready, will enhance flood protection for their catchments," said Mr Masagos.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline Water-efficient toilet bowls, smart shower devices for homes. Subscribe