Climate change forces Singapore to look at 5th desalination plant, in Jurong

Plan comes after drier weather causes levels in Linggiu Reservoir to drop to historic lows
SIAU MING EN Today Online 13 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Just seven months after announcing the construction of Singapore’s fourth desalination plant in Marina East, the Government is exploring the development of a fifth desalination plant, on Jurong Island, to “further enhance resilience”.

The move comes as more extreme weather patterns due to climate change poses new challenges to Singapore’s water sustainability, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (April 12), noting the need to further strengthen the country’s water supply resilience.

Speaking during the debate on his ministry’s budget in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Masagos painted a picture of how effects of drier weather on water supply has already been seen.

“The drier weather this couple of years saw the water level in Linggiu Reservoir drop to historic lows, from about 80 per cent in 2015 to 36.9 per cent as we speak and decreasing when there’s no rain. This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs,” he said.

“Fortunately, because we have diversified our water sources, our sources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the drier weather. But we cannot be complacent.”

Under the 1962 water agreement between Singapore and Malaysia, Singapore can currently extract and treat up to 250 million gallons of water per day (equivalent to 60 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs) from the Johor River. Water from Linggiu Reservoir is released into the Johor River to prevent saltwater intrusion from the sea into the river, as salty water cannot be treated by the water plant further downstream.

Water levels in Linggiu Reservoir has seen flagged as an area of concern four times in the last eight months.

Last August, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who was then helming the environment ministry, had said Linggiu Reservoir’s water levels were at a historic low of 54.5 per cent and have not recovered since the dry spell in early 2014. He had also said there had been 77 occasions, at that stage, where the PUB was temporarily unable to draw water from the river due to salinity intrusions caused by tide levels.

In November, Mr Masagos said the reservoir hit another all-time low of 43 per cent. Last month, the minister said the levels have receded to 42 per cent due to the prolonged dry weather, adding that PUB has been pumping an average of 16 million gallons of NEWater per day into Singapore’s reservoirs to maintain healthy water levels.

Singapore currently has two desalination plants — SingSpring and Tuaspring — which can produce 100 million gallons of freshwater per day from seawater. This can meet almost 25 per cent of the current water demand of 430 million gallons a day.

A third desalination plant in Tuas is under construction and is due to be completed next year while the fourth desalination plant in Marina East and will be completed towards the end of 2019. Both plants are able to produce 30 million gallons of freshwater per day each.

Under the Water Master Plan 2016 review, the fifth NEWater plan at Changi will also be completed at the end of the year and will be able to produce 50 million gallons per day of NEWater. NEWater can currently meet 30 per cent of Singapore’s total water demand.

PUB is also planning to harness more seawater as a resource and will work with companies on Jurong Island to meet cooling demands with seawater instead of freshwater supply, noted Mr Masagos.

About one-tenth of Singapore’s water demand now comes from Jurong Island, which is home to around a hundred petrochemical, specialty chemical and supporting companies. But a large portion of water supplied to them is lost to the atmosphere from cooling processes, reducing the amount that can be collected for reuse.


Water levels at Linggiu Reservoir drop to historic low of 37%
"This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs," says Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Water levels at Johor's Linggiu Reservoir have sunk to a historic low of 37 per cent, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12).

"This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs," he said, noting that water levels were 80 per cent at the start of 2015. In October last year, water levels hit a record low of 41 per cent and last month, it was 42 per cent.

"Fortunately, because we have diversified our water sources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of the drier weather. But we cannot be complacent," he said.

The minister announced measures to diversify and strengthen Singapore's water supply. For instance, national water agency PUB will explore the feasibility of building a 5th desalination plant for Singapore on Jurong Island, Mr Masagos stated.

Overall, there are plans to expand the total capacity of NEWater and desalination plants to meet up to 85 per cent of water demand by 2060, up from 55 per cent currently.

By then, Singapore's water demand is expected to more than double from some 430 million gallons a day at present; with non-domestic consumption projected to make up 70 per cent of total use.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted the effect of the hot spell on water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir as well. "Water has always been and will always be a strategic issue for Singapore, which is why I watch the water levels very closely," he wrote on Facebook. "We must continue to conserve and make the most of this precious resource. You can do your part by not wasting water, recycling what you can, and always using it wisely."

- CNA/ly


PUB mulling 5th desalination plant on Jurong Island: Masagos
Mr Masagos also announced measures to promote the use of more efficient fittings and appliances, such as the phasing out of less water-efficient taps and mixers.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: To further enhance Singapore’s water supply resilience, plans for a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island are being considered by PUB, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 12).

Currently, there are two desalination plants, with a third and a fourth – situated in Tuas and Marina East respectively – being built.

Even as the Government plans ahead to strengthen the drought resilience of Singapore’s water supply in the face of climate change, the public and industries must do their part to prevent water wastage, said Mr Masagos, in his Ministry's Committee of Supply debate.

“Over the years, we have made some progress in water efficiency. In 2014, we used 150 litres per person per day, down from 165 litres in 2003. However, this rebounded to 151 litres last year,” he said.

“As we strive towards our SSB (Sustainable Singapore Blueprint) target of 140 litres by 2030, everyone needs do (their) part by adopting more water saving habits and making use of more water-efficient technology.”

MEASURES FOR MORE WATER-EFFICIENT WASHING MACHINES, TAPS

To this end, Mr Masagos said two measures to promote the use of more efficient fittings and appliances will be implemented in early 2017.

First, the Government will introduce a 4-tick rating for washing machines, so that households can select the more water efficient machines from among the current 3-tick models. Washing machines today are labelled with two or three ticks, said Mr Masagos.

Second, 0-tick taps and mixers will be phased out, to allow for only taps and mixers with 1-tick or more to be sold or supplied.

“These are part of our plans to eventually phase out less efficient fittings and appliances by 2018. We will be consulting the industry on these plans,” he added.

With respect to commercial water use, Mr Masago gave an update that more than 600 large water users have submitted their plans to improve water efficiency and reduce water consumption. The submission of these plans, known as Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMP), have been mandatory for large water users since Jan 2015.

He added that PUB will study the data collected from the WEMP, with the aim of developing water efficiency benchmarks and good practice guidelines.

Singapore’s water demand is projected to double by 2060, according to Mr Masagos, with the non-domestic sector accounting for 70 per cent of future water demand.

- CNA/ll


Water levels in Linggiu Reservoir hit new low
Carolyn Khew, Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, which helps to meet half of Singapore's water needs, have fallen to a new historic low.

The reservoir is just over one-third full. Last October, water levels in the reservoir already reached a low of 41 per cent, but they have fallen some more to 36.9 per cent.

These levels are far below the 80 per cent that the reservoir in Malaysia had at the start of last year.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament the drop was due to dry weather: "This has impacted the reliability of imported water that supplies half our current needs."

He added: "Fortunately, because we have diversified our water resources, we have been able to mitigate the impact of drier weather. But we cannot be complacent."

The Linggiu Reservoir, built upstream of the Johor River in 1994, collects and releases rainwater into the river.

This pushes seawater back into the sea and ensures that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run water treatment plant there.

Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) were among those who asked about Singapore's long-term plans to ensure water sustainability and resilience to droughts.

Mr Masagos said the Government will continue to "plan and invest ahead of demand" . A Newater factory, which can produce 50 million gallons of water a day, will be built this year and two new desalination plants will be ready by 2019.

Construction of a third desalination plant in Tuas will be completed next year, while the fourth plant in Marina East, which will supply water to the city area, will be ready in end-2019.

Water agency PUB is also exploring building a fifth desalination plant on Jurong Island.

Some 430 million gallons of water are needed here daily. Demand could more than double by 2060.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page last night that water "has always been and will always be a strategic issue for Singapore, which is why I watch the water levels very closely".

"We must continue to conserve and make the most of this precious resource," he said, urging people to do their part by not wasting water.


Tightening the tap on water wastage: Measures ticking along
Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

To encourage water conservation, national water agency PUB will phase out the sale of less efficient taps and mixers as well as introduce new ratings for washing machines.

A new "four-tick" rating will be introduced next year for washing machines under the Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme.

The scheme enables consumers to make informed decisions by choosing more water-efficient water fittings and appliances such as taps and mixers, and flushing cisterns. The more ticks a product has, the more water-efficient it is.

Currently, washing machines sold have either two- or three-tick water efficiency ratings.

The sale and supply of taps and mixers with "zero ticks" will also be disallowed from early next year.

These measures are all part of the Government's plan to manage water demand.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that extreme weather patterns due to climate change will pose a challenge to Singapore's water sustainability.

While the amount of water used by Singapore residents fell from 160 litres per person per day in 2003, to 150 litres in 2014, the figure rose last year - to about 151 litres of water a day.

Separately, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said that, by 2018, the manufacture, import and export of non-compliant mercury-added batteries will be prohibited.

This refers to those containing more than five parts-per-million mercury per cell.

Singapore generates more than 60,000 tonnes of e-waste each year, and this will only grow as electronic items become more common, Dr Khor added.

A study is under way to look at how feasible system designs can be developed for the collection, recycling and management of e-waste in Singapore.

PUB to call tender for 4th desalination plant today
Carolyn Khew, My Paper AsiaOne 15 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE'S fourth desalination plant, which is set to be completed in 2019, will be the first to treat both fresh and seawater.

When operational, the plant will meet the water needs of the central and eastern parts of the island.

National water agency PUB will call for a tender today for the construction of the plant in Marina East, which will be able to produce up to 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water a day.

PUB said in a press release yesterday that the successful bidder will design, build, own and operate the desalination plant.

The building of the fourth plant is part of the Government's plan to expand its desalination and Newater capacities to meet up to 85 per cent of Singapore's water needs by 2060.

Associate Professor Darren Sun from the Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering said that in the light of climate change, water sustainability is a major concern for Singapore.

"We need to build resilience to combat climate change in long periods without rain," he added.

"The versatile plant will enable us to continuously produce high-quality water from both seawater and freshwater from the marina catchment, while maintaining healthy water levels in the reservoirs."

Singapore currently has two desalination plants. Both are in Tuas and together can produce a total of 100 million gallons of water a day.

The construction of a third plant in Tuas is expected to be completed next year. This will add another 30 million gallons of water a day to Singapore's supply.

William Yeo, PUB's director of policy and planning, said: "Like Newater, desalinated water is independent of rainfall and can be used to supplement our other water sources during dry weather."

During the debate on the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources' budget on Tuesday, Minister Masagos Zulkifli said he was worried about the challenge that extreme weather patterns stemming from climate change could pose to water sustainability.

Water levels in the Linggiu reservoir, which helps to supply half of Singapore's water needs, fell to a new historic low of 36.9 per cent on Tuesday.

Singapore's current water demand stands at about 430 million gallons of water per day. This could more than double by 2060, with non-domestic demand estimated to make up 70 per cent of overall water use.

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