‘I felt like I had time-travelled’: Water-rationing exercise returns to schools

Kong Hwa School pupils (in white), accompanied by students from Tanjong Katong Girls’ School (in green), collecting water from a distribution point after experiencing water disruption in their school during the “Make Every Drop Count” water conservation campaign on March 8, 2023. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE – When water did not flow from the tap at the end of a school day, Primary 4 pupil Theodore Mok felt like he had gone back to a distant past. 

Said the nine-year-old from Kong Hwa School: “During World War II, there was a water shortage and people then did not have enough water for themselves… I felt like I had time-travelled.”

The water-rationing exercise, conducted with national water agency PUB, caught some students from Kong Hwa School and Tanjong Katong Girls’ School by surprise on Wednesday.

The exercise, making a return since 2019 as it had been halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be conducted by 114 other schools over the month to nurture an appreciation for water and promote its conservation among more than 34,000 students.

The event is part of the Singapore World Water Day celebrations that take place in March to raise awareness of water security in Singapore.

Community organisations and businesses will hold water-themed activities throughout the month. For instance, kayak clean-ups will be organised to keep waterways clean and discounts for water-efficient household appliances will be offered by selected retailers.

The country aims to reduce household water consumption to 130 litres per person per day by 2030 under the Singapore Green Plan. However, consumption rose during the pandemic to 158 litres of water per person a day in 2021, up from 141 litres in 2018 and 2019.

Before that, water consumption had been declining over the decades. The figure in 1976 was about 263 litres of water a day per person.

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Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, who was at Kong Hwa School on Wednesday, said that water management is an increasingly critical issue given the developing threat of climate change.

Therefore, it is important to teach children about water resource management and conservation at a young age.

Primary 5 pupil Rey Cheong, 10, said of the water-rationing exercise: “As the leftover water dripped from the tap, I realised that all it took to wash my hands was just a few droplets… It really gave meaning to the phrase ‘every drop counts’.”

More information on the initiatives and retailer discounts can be found at makeeverydropcount.pub.gov.sg

Tanjong Katong Girls’ School Secondary 3 student Jovia Lim, 14, holding a pail of water meant for students to wash their hands during a water-rationing exercise at recess on March 8, 2023. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

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