Singapore needs to ‘continually shore up its water system’

LOUISA TANG Today Online 19 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE — As the first of two phases of water price hikes took effect this month, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli yesterday reiterated the need to price water correctly, and to invest in R&D and infrastructure.

And as part of ongoing efforts to shore up Singapore’s water security, national water agency PUB also announced that it has tied up with Japanese firm Kurita Water Industries to set up a new S$2.5 million water research centre here, which is aimed at improving the efficiency of the desalination process and NEWater production.

The PUB has also signed two agreements with Saudi Arabia and Australia to promote research and collaboration on water technologies.

The centre’s launch and the two agreements were announced yesterday by Mr Masagos at the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) Spotlight 2017 event, held at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa.

More than 200 global water professionals and those involved in the management of water attended the event, which takes place ahead of the biennial SIWW next year.

In his speech, Mr Masagos noted that the Republic cannot take good water quality for granted.

To maintain the water standards that Singapore now enjoys, the PUB tests various types of water for over 300 different quality parameters, far beyond any international drinking water regulation requirements.

The Republic has also deployed about 300 pressure and water quality sensors around the island, which constantly monitor the 5,400km-long water supply network.

“All these treatments, sensors and testing are not without cost, but the confidence it inspires in the public and the assurance it gives to the regulators are quite literally priceless,” Mr Masagos added.

The upcoming R&D centre run by Kurita will, in turn, support the development of novel technologies in desalination and water reuse, which are key to Singapore’s four “national taps”.

About half of the Republic’s water is imported from Malaysia, and the rest comes from local catchment areas, NEWater and desalination.

PUB chief technology officer Harry Seah said: “One of the solutions Kurita is developing is a new chemical that helps membranes (which filter impurities) operate in a more efficient way.”

“If it (the new method) works, we’ll operate at lower pressure, which means lower energy, which translates into lower costs,” he added.

The PUB’s agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation will support R&D in areas such as desalination, energy reduction and leak detection.

Its agreement with Western Australia’s Water Corporation will boost collaboration in the fields of urban water supply, waste water management and innovation. The partnership will also explore climate-change adaptation.

Referring to the water price hikes, Mr Masagos also cited the importance of “pricing water right” to “continually shore up our water system”.

The 30-per-cent water price hike, to be phased in over two years, was announced during the Budget in February.

“Some of you ... in the audience would have received your first utility bill with the new charges. I will not ask you how you feel about your water bill — after all, a price increase in anything is never welcome,” he added.


PUB inks agreements to deepen innovation in water technologies
Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's national water authority PUB signed agreements with two international water companies that are aimed at increasing bilateral technology and capability exchanges and further increase Singapore's aspirations to be a global hydro hub.

This was announced by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli at the Singapore International Water Week Spotlight on Tuesday (Jul 18).

One is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate knowledge exchanges in areas such as desalination technology and energy reduction with Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation, while another MoU with Western Australia’s Water Corporation will focus mainly on collaboration in the field of urban water supply and wastewater management.

"We want to be a key node to bring the global water industry together to co-create innovative water solutions and build capabilities to solve urban water challenges," Mr Masagos said.

JAPAN'S KURITA WATER TO OPEN R&D CENTRE

Mr Masagos also announced at the event that Japanese water company Kurita Water Industries will be opening its first research and development (R&D) centre outside of Japan in Singapore in January 2018.

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"This R&D centre will strengthen Singapore's position as a global hydro hub and support the development of novel technologies in desalination and water reuse," he said.

To be located at Clean Tech Park and supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and PUB, it will focus on developing technologies in desalination and water reuse.

It will also explore collaboration with Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) in the areas of membrane technology, water treatment chemicals and water recycling. Kurita and NEWRI have another joint R&D project at PUB's R&D facility in Tuas.

Tatsushi Kuramae, executive officer of Kurita, said: "Singapore was a natural choice due to the concentration of universities, research institutes and corporate research and development facilities."

The centre will allow Kurita to leverage Singapore as a platform to tap into regional markets, he added.

Ng Joo Hee, PUB chief executive, said: “Climate change, pollution, population growth and urbanisation, and rising cost of operations compel water utility leaders to work ever closer together to co-create mutually beneficial solutions.”

The partnerships will further strengthen Singapore’s links to the global water industry, he added.

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