Water rationing at NUS to drive home need to save water

From 7am to 5pm, the 670 students and staff of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and took a bath with water from jerry cans and buckets.
From 7am to 5pm, the 670 students and staff of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and took a bath with water from jerry cans and buckets.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
From 7am to 5pm, the 670 students and staff of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and took a bath with water from jerry cans and buckets.
From 7am to 5pm, the 670 students and staff of Ridge View Residential College brushed their teeth, washed their hands and took a bath with water from jerry cans and buckets.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - To mark World Water Day on Thursday (March 22), students at a hostel in the National University of Singapore 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 took a bath with water from jerry cans and buckets.

The one-day water rationing exercise is part of the university's save-water campaign that includes exhibitions with tips on how to conserve water and various conservation attempts at the varsity, including installing a tank in Ridge View's garden to collect rainwater to water the plants. The exhibitions end on Friday.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who was at the university to observe the efforts, said: "Every once in a while we need to be reminded that water is precious and we need to conserve it."

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

A study by the International Bottled Water Association, a United States-based group whose members are largely bottled water manufacturers, shows 1.39 litres of water is required to fill a one-litre bottle.


A tank that collects rainwater to water the plants in Ridge View Residential College's garden was installed during the one-day water rationing exercise. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Mr Masagos also noted that eschewing bottled water saves people the money spent on such purchases. It also reduces usage of single-use plastics, which are disposable plastics used just once and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Ridge View was also equipped with 70 smart shower devices last year that give real-time information on the water used during a shower.

As a result, an average of five litres of water is saved each time a person takes a shower.

On a national level, water agency PUB plans to install smart shower devices in 300 new HDB Build-to-Order homes in Bukit Batok later in 2018.

The devices, which also let families track their usage history via an app, are the first of the 10,000 to be fitted in new BTO flats by end-2019.

Showering constitutes the highest water usage in households, making up 27 per cent of water consumption, according to a PUB study of 400 homes.

Hostel students interviewed said the water rationing exercise 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."