Public advised not to consume water directly from Pulau Ubin's taps, wells

All food outlets at Pulau Ubin must use bottled water, PUB water from mainland Singapore, or boiled well water when preparing food and drinks for sale, says the authorities.
Channel NewsAsia 21 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: The authorities on Monday (Dec 21) advised the public not to consume water directly from wells and taps in Pulau Ubin, after the water quality on the island was found to have deteriorated.

All food establishments at Pulau Ubin will not be allowed to use water directly from wells and taps, said the National Environment Agency, PUB, Singapore Land Authority and NParks in a joint news release. The food outlets must use bottled water, PUB water from mainland Singapore or well water that has been boiled, when preparing food and drinks for sale.

The authorities added they have issued advisories to residents on the island to boil water from the wells for at least one minute continuously before using it. Residents have also been advised to use bottled water or PUB water from the mainland for consumption or related uses, such as for brushing teeth and washing crockery. Many of Pulau Ubin’s residents use well water for their daily needs, said the authorities.

There are also signs placed at public restrooms to remind the public not to consume water from the taps as it is from wells. More signs will be put up on the island to inform visitors not to consume water directly from the taps, said the authorities.

The Government has been exploring the use of on-site water treatment units that will be suitable for Pulau Ubin, to improve access to potable water, said a spokesperson. "More details will be shared when ready," the spokesperson added. "In the meantime, we would like to advise the public to refrain from drinking directly from taps and wells on Pulau Ubin."

- CNA/hs

Well and tap water from Ubin ‘not safe for drinking’
Today Online 21 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE — Water drawn from the wells of Pulau Ubin must now be boiled continuously for at least a minute before it can be used to prepare food and drinks for sale.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) issued an advisory on this requirement today (Dec 21), after finding that the quality of water from the island’s wells — used by food sellers — has deteriorated.

Besides boiling water from the well, these sellers are also told to use bottled water or tap water from mainland Singapore.

In the joint media statement by NEA, national water agency PUB, the Singapore Land Authority and National Parks Board, it was not stated when it was first discovered that water quality had dropped, only that the finding was “recent”.

The agencies also did not say what contaminants were found in the water, or the number of wells from which water samples had been taken.

The deterioration of water quality could be due to contamination by animal or human waste, or by surface runoff from contaminated soil, the authorities said.

Residents of Pulau Ubin have been advised to boil well water for at least a minute before consuming, or using it to brush their teeth or wash the dishes. If not, they may use bottled water or PUB water from the mainland.

The public is also advised not to drink water from the taps on the island, because it is drawn from the wells and is not potable without further treatment. Signs have been placed in public restrooms on the island and more will be put up to inform visitors, the authorities said.

Ubin resident Chu Yok Choon, 70, said staff members from various government agencies were on the island yesterday morning to distribute flyers and to explain the water situation to residents.

Mr Chu said the 38 residents there typically boil their water as a precaution, although he knows of no resident who has fallen ill from drinking well water. He has lived on Ubin all his life and sells canned drinks at his bicycle shop.

Another resident, a provision shop-owner who wanted to be known only as Madam Ng, said she will now have to use boiled or bottled water to wash spoons used by customers who buy fresh coconut juice from her.

Apart from that, the 66-year-old said she would probably still use tap water to wash vegetables and other food for her own consumption, because the food would eventually be cooked.

The exact number of wells on Ubin is not known, but those familiar with the island say each household would have at least one well.

Wells that are used daily are maintained better than disused wells. Residents would cover the top of the wells, and most of them use pumps to get the water to their homes.

Plans are being made to improve access to potable water on the rustic island and more details will be shared when ready, the authorities said.

A spokesperson told TODAY: “Over the past few years, the Government has been exploring the use of on-site water treatment units that will be suitable for Ubin … In the meantime, we would like to advise the public to refrain from drinking directly from taps and wells on Pulau Ubin.”

In March last year, an advisory was issued to licensees of retail food establishments to take similar precautions, after some water samples taken from their taps were found to be “unsatisfactory”.


Public advised not to drink water directly from Pulau Ubin wells and taps

AsiaOne 21 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE - The quality of well water from used by retail food establishments at Pulau Ubin has deteriorated, the National Environmental Agency (NEA), PUB, Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and National Parks Board (NParks) said in a press statement on Monday (Dec 21).

As such, all retail food establishments at Pulau Ubin are advised to use bottled water, PUB water from the mainland, or boil the water drawn from the wells for at least one minute continuously before using it for preparation of food and drinks for sale.

The agencies had previously issued an advisory in 2014 to licensees, to adopt similar precautionary measures, following detection of some unsatisfactory water samples obtained from their taps.

According to the press statement, many of the island's residents use well water for their daily needs. There are also advisory signs put up in the public restrooms reminding the public not to consume the water from the taps, as the water is drawn from wells and is thus not potable without further treatment.


Alert over well water used on Ubin
Linette Lai, Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Dec 15;

Water quality in wells used by eateries in Pulau Ubin has deteriorated, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has found.

This could be because of contamination by human or animal waste, or surface run-off from contaminated soil, said a spokesman.

In a joint statement yesterday, the NEA, national water agency PUB, Singapore Land Authority and National Parks Board said that all retail food outlets in Pulau Ubin are now required to boil well water continuously for at least a minute before using it to prepare food or drinks for sale.


Alternatively, they can use bottled water or PUB water from the mainland. The island of 38 residents is believed to have fewer than 10 eateries.

The four agencies said a similar advisory was issued as a precaution in March last year, when unsatisfactory water samples were taken from some taps.

They did not say if anyone had recently fallen ill because of drinking contaminated water.

Public toilets on the island already carry signs reminding the public not to consume the water from the taps, as the water is drawn from wells and is not potable without further treatment.

More signs will be put up to inform visitors of this, the four agencies said.

Residents of Pulau Ubin have also been advised to take similar precautions with well water used for daily needs, including brushing teeth or washing crockery.

But residents that The Straits Times spoke to remained unfazed, saying that they have been using well water without problems for many years. They had not heard about the contaminated water before advisories were given out to them yesterday.

Housewife Ong Siew Ong, 72, said: "I have lived here for more than 60 years, and we have always used well water."

Village chief Chu Yok Choon, 70, said: "I have never used water from the mainland. The whole island uses well water. Of course, we boil it before drinking."

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