Singapore's fourth desalination plant in Marina East begins operations

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is the Republic's first large-scale plant able to treat both fresh water and seawater. PHOTO: PUB

SINGAPORE - Singapore's fourth desalination plant, which can produce about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, has begun commercial operations, said national water agency PUB on Tuesday (July 14).

This amount of water can meet the demands of about 200,000 households, and accounts for about 7 per cent of Singapore's daily water demand of 430 million gallons.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which officially started operations on June 29, is the Republic's first large-scale plant able to treat both fresh water and seawater.

In dry weather, the plant draws water from the sea to produce desalinated water. When it rains, the plant will instead use rainwater collected in Marina Reservoir to produce potable water. This requires less energy and fewer steps to treat compared with desalination.

The plant will strengthen Singapore's water supply resilience in the face of increasingly dry weather conditions caused by climate change, PUB said.

PUB chief executive Ng Joo Hee said seawater desalination is one of Singapore's four "national taps", alongside imports, rainfall and recycled water, but unlike the other three, it is a "practically limitless source".

"The plant's completion is also eagerly awaited because it is such a special facility: a dual-purpose desalination plant in the middle of our city, integrated with parkland, accessible to the public, and a beautiful piece of architecture," he added.

"I am certain it will become as iconic and as loved as the nearby Marina Barrage."

Built across the mouth of the 350m-wide Marina Channel, the Marina Barrage is a dam which created Marina Reservoir that also doubles up as a hot spot for recreational activities such as picnics and kite-flying.

The new desalination plant is located on the stretch of the Eastern Coastal Park Connector Network that bridges East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East.

With treatment facilities situated underground, nearly 20,000 sq m of open green rooftop space is freed up for community activities and recreation.

Last October, the Marina East plant became the first industrial plant in Singapore to be given PUB's ABC Waters Certification (Gold) award for its design features.

Keppel Infrastructure subsidiary Marina East Water will operate the plant for a 25-year concession period from this year to 2045. Keppel also operates the Ulu Pandan Newater plant.

Keppel Infrastructure chief executive officer Ong Tiong Guan said the company faced some "inevitable challenges" while completing the final lap of testing during the Covid-19 pandemic due to reduced manpower.

"The commencement of operations is testament to Keppel's can-do spirit and resilience as we worked closely with PUB and our contractors to overcome these challenges and deliver a successful project," Dr Ong added.

Singapore's three other desalination plants are the SingSpring, Tuas South and Tuas plants, which began operations in 2005, 2013 and 2018 respectively.

Together with the new plant, they have a combined capacity of 160 million gallons of water a day.

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