Rainwater to be harvested at two new housing estates

System to be piloted in Punggol Northshore as part of HDB's water-saving initiatives

Two upcoming housing estates will help conserve water by harvesting rainwater for non-potable uses like washing common areas.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a Facebook post on Saturday that the Housing Board has developed several innovative water-saving initiatives, including the UrbanWater Harvesting System.

"HDB has centralised and integrated the detention tank, rainwater harvesting tank and the treatment system so that surface run-off from the entire precinct can be collected, stored and recycled," he wrote.

Through this system, rainwater is collected in a harvesting tank before being treated for use such as watering plants, which helps to reduce potable water demand, said Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance.

This system will be piloted in Punggol Northshore and can be extended later to other new precincts, he added.

The Straits Times understands that selected housing precints, each comprising six to eight blocks, will be part of the trial when Punggol Northshore Residences is completed next year.

The new Tengah town will incorporate smart technologies, including the UrbanWater Harvesting System, it was announced last year.

"Every drop of water counts and we must press on with innovative ways to better utilise our precious water resources," wrote Mr Wong.

Associate Professor Darren Sun from Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering said the move will help save a substantial amount of drinkable water, most of which is used for cleaning purposes.

Singapore's heavy rainfall can be turned into a new stream of usable water by utilising the flood prevention infrastructure, he added.

"Rather than let run-off go to the sea, we can collect it and extend our capacity and water resilience," said Prof Sun.

Other countries such as Australia are also moving in this direction, he added.

The removal of biofilm bacteria together with a simple filtration process can produce clean water that uses less electricity and manpower than drinking water, and will be relatively inexpensive, he said, adding: "A lot of water is used for washing purposes, from car washing to the floors at hawker centres. This can provide a service to the community at a lower cost."

Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that selected housing districts, each comprising six to eight blocks, will be part of the trial in Punggol Northshore. The Housing and Development Board has since clarified that selected precincts, each comprising six to eight blocks, will be part of the trial. A district comprises several precincts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Rainwater to be harvested at two new housing estates'. Subscribe