Water levels in Johor's Linggui Reservoir at 42%, just above historic low of 41%: Masagos

Audrey Tan Straits Times 22 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE - Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor - which can supply up to 60 per cent of Singapore's water needs - are now at about 42 per cent.

This is just above the historical low of 41 per cent in late 2015. Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli revealed this on Tuesday (March 22) morning at Elias Park Primary School, where a water rationing exercise was being conducted to mark World Water Day.

Dry weather has been causing a steady depletion of water in Linggiu Reservoir since the prolonged dry spell experienced by Singapore and the region in early 2014.

Water levels never recovered from the dry spell and in August 2015, they dropped to 54 per cent. It later dipped to a low of 43 per cent in November 2015.

The north-east monsoon season in December had raised water levels to almost 50 per cent in early January, but they have dipped again since then to the current 42 per cent.

Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) from the river, but there have been four disruptions this year. National water agency PUB has been pumping an average of 16 mgd of Newater a day for the month of March to the reservoirs here to meet the nation's water needs.

However, there is no need yet for island-wide water rationing to be conducted, Mr Masagos said.

"Some of you might be wondering why we are having this exercise, and when was the last time a water rationing exercise was held in Singapore," Mr Masagos told students at an assembly.

"The last time we experienced nation-wide water rationing was back in 1964. Although there is no need for active rationing today, it is still important to remind everybody the importance of water."

The voluntary water rationing exercise conducted by Elias Park Primary School was held for 1.5 hours from 10am to 11.30am, to teach students the value of water.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in a water rationing exercise skit

During that time, the 1,100 students of the school were having their recess breaks. Principal Cassie Fan said students tend to use the most water during this period.

All the taps in the school were turned off for the 1.5 hours and students had to scoop water from pails to wash their hands before and after their meals, and to flush the toilets, for instance.

Elias Park Primary School was one of five schools to mark World Water Day with such an exercise. Two schools, Peirce Secondary School and Bukit View Secondary School, did so in early March. The others, including Bendeemer Primary School and Woodgrove Primary School, did so on Tuesday.

From about 7pm on Tuesday evening, buildings in the Marina Bay area, including the Singapore Sports Hub and the Singapore Flyer, will turn blue to commemorate World Water Day.


Water levels low at Singapore's main source
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 23 Mar 16;

Water rationing is not yet on the cards for Singapore, but people should save water in their own ways, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

"We have not had water rationing since 1964, and I don't think that, with all the preparation we have in place with Newater and desalination, we would have to do so.

"However, it does not mean that we should take our water supply for granted," he told reporters during a water rationing exercise to mark World Water Day at Elias Park Primary School.

Water levels at the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor - which can supply about 60 per cent of Singapore's water needs - are at 42 per cent, he added. This is only slightly above the historical low of 41 per cent recorded in October last year.

Mr Masagos urged Singaporeans to change their water usage habits by taking shorter showers or by using a cup or turning off the tap when brushing teeth, for example.

It was previously reported that reservoir levels were at their lowest at 43 per cent last November. But national water agency PUB clarified yesterday that the historical low was 41 per cent in October.

There has been a steady depletion of water in Linggiu Reservoir since a prolonged dry spell experienced by Singapore and the region in early 2014.

Last August, the levels dropped to 54 per cent and dipped further to 43 per cent in November.

The north-east monsoon season in December had raised water levels to almost 50 per cent in January, but they have since fallen to the current 42 per cent.

Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) from the river, but there were four sea-water intrusions which temporarily disrupted plant operations this year.

The Linggiu Reservoir, located upstream of the Johor River, collects and releases rainwater and pushes sea water back into the sea, to ensure that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run treatment plant there.

PUB has been pumping an average of 16 mgd of Newater a day since the start of this month to reservoirs in Singapore to keep local reservoir stock at a healthy level.

On recent suggestions to make water more expensive, Mr Masagos said that water prices are based on the long-run marginal cost of water, which refers to the cost of producing the next drop of water from the desalination and Newater plants.

He said: "So as long as we are within the long-run marginal cost of producing this water, we will keep water prices at that level."

According to PUB, the price of potable water for domestic households is about $1.50 per cubic metre (not including GST), or 1,000 litres, for homes using 40 cubic metres or less a month.

Each Singapore resident uses 150 litres of water a day, enough to fill almost two bathtubs.

While the 42 per cent figure at Linggiu Reservoir sounds alarming, said Dr Cecilia Tortajada, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy's Institute of Water Policy, she is confident that Singapore can meet its water needs through other means, such as treating used water (Newater) and desalination.

"But as dry spells become more frequent, people and industries should also do more to save water," she told The Straits Times.

Elias Park Primary School yesterday held a water rationing exercise from 10am to 11.30am to teach its 1,100 pupils about the value of water.

Taps were turned off and pupils had to scoop water from pails to wash their hands and to flush the toilets.

Said Primary 5 pupil Jethro Tan, 10, of the exercise: "It helps me experience what life was like in the past and how hard life is without water."


S’pore’s long-term water supply a cause for worry: Masagos
VALERIE KOH Today Online 23 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE — The long-term supply of water remains a source of worry for the Republic as it cannot always rely on the supply from Johor to replenish its reservoirs, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday.

Due to the prolonged dry weather, water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor — which can supply up to 60 per cent of Singapore’s water needs — are now at about 42 per cent, just above the historical low of 41 per cent in October 2015, he added.

Since March, national water agency PUB has been pumping an average of 16 million gallons of NEWater per day into Singapore’s reservoirs to maintain healthy water levels.

Singapore can currently draw 250 million gallons per day (mgd) from the Johor River.

However, Mr Masagos said there had been disruptions on many days last year and also this year due to “intrusion of salinity”, which occurs when the water level at Linggiu is low, and salt water seeps into the river.

According to PUB, there were close to 100 occasions last year where Singapore’s ability to draw water from the Johor River was temporarily affected.

Speaking at Elias Park Primary School, where a water rationing exercise was being conducted to mark World Water Day, Mr Masagos noted that Singapore has been investing in technology that allows it to reuse water that is part of the island’s drainage and sewage system, as well as to produce water through desalination, but with less energy.

“All these sources of water use energy and energy become a critical factor of cost in our water-supply chain. Over the long term, we have to worry about this because we cannot always rely on the supply from Johor to replenish our reservoirs.”

Despite the dry spell, Singapore, which has not held a water rationing exercise since 1964 — does not need to conduct such an exercise yet, Mr Masagos said.

“However, it does not mean that we should take our water supply for granted. Every (drop of) water we save counts and changing our habits to make sure that at the end of the day, all of us use less over the years will matter.

“It could be something like taking one minute less in the shower, using a cup when brushing teeth.”

Individuals and industrial users of water must also put in place technology and processes that will use as little water as possible, as well as ensure that water is not inevitably wasted, he added.

For example, do not buy washing machines that have been rated lowly for water savings.

Mr Masagos said: “We are projecting demand over the next decade and we have to be ready for disruptions to our water supply both from rain coming down less (often) and those disruptions that may occur at our Johor River supply.

“Therefore, it’s necessary for us to put in (place) such mitigation (measures) — more desalination plants, more NEWater processing — to ensure we don’t ever have to go into a water crisis.”


Water level at Linggiu Reservoir close to historic low: Masagos
The water level at the reservoir has fallen to 42 per cent, close to the historic low of 41 per cent recorded in October 2015, says the Environment and Water Resources Minister.
Angela Lim, Channel NewsAsia 23 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: The water level at Linggiu Reservoir - which directly affects the amount of water Singapore can draw from the Johor River - has fallen to 42 per cent, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli revealed on Tuesday (Mar 22).

This is close to the historic low of 41 per cent recorded in October last year, he said at a water rationing exercise at Elias Park Primary School held to mark World Water Day.

Previous reports said that the water level at the reservoir hit a record low of 43 per cent last November. But PUB clarified on Tuesday that the historic low was in October.

"Our worry is of course the long-term supply of water. We cannot just rely on rain to replenish our reservoir. And that is why for the longest time, we have been investing in technology to be able to reuse our water from our drainage and sewage system; at the same time, to invest in technology to produce water through desalination, but with as little energy as possible,” said Mr Masagos.

“All these sources of water use energy, and energy becomes a critical factor in cost. And therefore, over the long term, we have to worry because we cannot always rely on our water supply from Johor to replenish our supply,” he added.

Singapore's water supply has not been affected so far, as about 16 million gallons of NEWater are pumped into its reservoirs daily.

But with hotter and drier weather affecting Singapore's water sources, Mr Masagos urged businesses and individual Singaporeans to do their part to conserve water.

As part of the exercise, about 1,100 students were reminded of what it was like to live with a water shortage. Students also showcased their artwork, and participated in games and other activities with parent volunteers to learn more about how to save water.


Four taps and a foresight that won’t let them run dry
Today Online 23 Mar 16;

Madam Halimah Salleh, 68, remembers how she had to queue to fill a pail of water for her family as a child. Running water from a tap at home was a luxury then, and most Singaporeans had to queue with pails to get clean water from lorries supplied by the government that went to the villages, she said.

“When the lorry came, all of us had to rush to queue and, since only one pail was allowed per person, we had to rush home and come back out again ... I had nine siblings, but only the older ones did the manual work,” said the retiree, in Malay.

Mdm Halimah, a Punggol resident for five years, was among the visitors to Punggol’s inaugural Waterway Day last Sunday, an event that also commemorated the first death anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Her childhood experience is vastly different from the reality today, thanks in part to the foresight by Singapore’s founding Prime Minister to ensure clean waterways, reservoirs and tap water for the people.

The late Mr Lee introduced the nation’s first Water Master Plan in 1972 that outlined long-term plans to develop sustainable local water resources for Singapore. This was to ensure that Singapore did not have to depend on Malaysia for its supply of fresh water. Singapore’s current water agreement with Malaysia will end in 2061.

Besides ensuring a sustainable and diversified water supply for future generations through the four National Taps — local catchment water, imported water, NEWater and desalinated water — Mr Lee also saw the need to clean up the Singapore River. In 1977, he challenged the Environment Ministry to clean up the river over the next 10 years.

The Singapore River today, which locals and tourists can stroll along and admire the modern skyline from comfortable river boats, is his legacy.

Mr Richard Wong, 61, agreed that the clean-up helped heighten Singapore’s profile as a tourism hub, as “tourists (who) come to Singapore tend to visit those areas of interest”.

He added: “(Previously), the Singapore River had a lot of floating debris and it was dirty and it smelled bad. No fish lived in it. After the clean-up (of) the waterway, people can even swim in it.”

Some older interviewees felt the younger generation may not be fully prepared to handle the problem of water scarcity in future, but one younger Singaporean was more confident. Mr Lai Zhenwei, 29, said Singapore could be a role model for neighbouring countries in overcoming “natural obstacles” such as “not having fresh water (sources of our own)”.

“I am pretty confident that we will reach a stage of water sustainability for the whole nation, but I think it takes the whole nation to do it together, rather than just a small party (of people) doing it,” he said. ASYRAF KAMIL

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