Best of our wild blogs: 1 Jan 13

Crabby rain at Pasir Ris Park Mangrove
from Peiyan.Photography

Macro Highlights of 2012
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Crows harassing Black Kites
from Bird Ecology Study Group

My work attachment at RMBR
from Peiyan.Photography

The year in rainforests
from news by Rhett Butler

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PUB looks at Jurong Island water needs: tapping groundwater

It is studying ways to tap wastewater and groundwater for use there
Grace Chua Straits Times 1 Jan 13;

CAN Jurong Island's groundwater be tapped? Or can waste heat from industrial processes be used to clean its used water or drive desalination?

These are some of the questions the PUB is asking. The national water agency called a tender last month to work out how best to meet the industrial island's future water needs.

In 2010, the PUB found the island had fresh groundwater, after it dug a 5m-deep well and pumped a litre of freshwater per second from it for three months.

Last November, it closed a tender for a study to model the groundwater on Jurong Island to see if industries there can tap groundwater for process and other needs, and how much can be tapped sustainably.

As industry expands on the island, demand for water for cooling and industrial processes will also rise from the 35 million gallons per day now to double that over the next 10 years, said PUB senior planning officer Soh Yeow Chong.

Currently, Newater, potable water and industrial non-potable water are supplied from the mainland, while some firms pipe in seawater for cooling. As demand grows, more costly land and sub-sea pipes will be needed.

Meanwhile, wastewater is treated by PUB plants or private utilities. Most of it is discharged, while some is reused. But the PUB wants to know: Can more of the discharged water be reclaimed for use on the island? Can an easier- to-treat portion of used water be segregated from a harder-to- clean portion?

"We are trying to close the water loop on Jurong Island," Mr Soh said.

The 32 sq km Jurong Island is home to more than 94 petroleum, petrochemical and chemical companies, and more firms are expected to set up shop there on two newly reclaimed areas.

Besides boosting the local water supply, the PUB also wants to know if, say, waste heat from industry can be used to desalinate or treat water there.

And for the longer term, the PUB also wants consultants to help work out whether public, privatised or some hybrid form of water supply and treatment is best for Jurong Island.

A hybrid business model already exists: the design, build, own and operate scheme that has private firms building, running and supplying Newater to the PUB.

The tender for this water-resources study closes on Jan 10.

Meanwhile, groundwater - largely rainwater that has seeped into the ground - could be another source of water for Jurong Island's industries.

The island is composed of seven islands, made up of the sedimentary rock in the Jurong Formation, joined by reclamation.

Rainwater seeps into the ground and is less dense than seawater, so it forms a freshwater lens atop the saltier ocean and can thus be tapped.

It goes at least 5m down, but drawing too much groundwater too fast can lead to land subsidence. So the PUB wants to know how much can safely be tapped, and at what rate - depending on rainfall - groundwater supplies get recharged.

The groundwater study tender closed in November with four bids, ranging from $797,498 to $860,000, including those from consultants Camp Dresser and McKee, and the National University of Singapore.

The contract for the 18-month study is likely to be awarded next month, Mr Soh said.

Future studies could come up with rainwater recovery schemes and storage for Jurong Island, the tender said.

Other areas being studied

WATER supply is not the only thing being studied on Jurong Island.

In 2010, the "Jurong Island version 2.0" initiative was launched to prepare the petrochemical island for future growth, increase its competitiveness and overcome resource constraints.

Under that multi-agency scheme which involved industrial landlord JTC, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and other government agencies, various studies were carried out.

The areas studied included looking into a second link to mainland Singapore, making industries more energy-efficient, and using green materials such as palm oil, sugar cane and plant ethanol as alternatives to petroleum-derived feedstocks for producing chemicals.

Several suggestions from these studies could be adopted or have already been adopted on Jurong Island.

For one thing, when the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal opens this year, its "cold energy" could be tapped. Liquefied gas is shipped at very low temperatures and as it heats up, it can cool air and separate it into oxygen and nitrogen for use in other industrial processes.

And the McKinsey Green Campus, an actual chemical process plant on the island, serves as a model factory that teaches companies how to increase energy efficiency throughout their operations.

Meanwhile, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and consultants CH2M Hill did a study of the air quality on the island, measuring what the most common pollutants were at what levels, how Jurong Island stacks up against industrial parks overseas, and suggesting specific pollution abatement measures.

Findings from this study are not yet available.

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Indonesia: Riau`s forests shrinking

Antara 31 Dec 12;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - A local non governmental organization said conversion has significantly cut the size of Riau`s tropical forests over the past several years.

In 2009-2012, at least 500,000 hectares of forests have been converted mainly into industrial timber estates (HTI), the Riau Forest Saviour Network (Jikalahari) said here Monday.

Jikalahari coordinator Muslim Rasyid mainly blamed industrial timer (HTI) companies for the rapid process of deforestation in Riau.

Muslim accused companies of committing extra-ordinary crime causing the loss of natural forests in the province.

Research by Jikalahari, showed that in the past 10 years there were cases of illegal logging and corruption in the forestry sector yet unsettled until today.

The condition was worse with the absence of regional regulation on layout and conflicting licenses in forest land management.


Editor: Maryati


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Malaysia: Environment tops Johor wish list

New Straits Times 1 Jan 13

JOHOR BARU: Representatives from various segments of society here expressed their wish for better things to come this new year.

Malaysia Nature Society Johor chairman Vincent Chow hoped more attention would be given to protect the environment.

He urged the state government to be serious in addressing river pollution as about 60 per cent of rivers in the state were polluted by household and factory effluents.

"It is my wish that the Department of Environment be more vigilant against people discarding waste into our waterways and carry out deterrent measures.

"We wish all heads of departments and politicians would attend courses on nature awareness and sustainability, so they can help the DOE in environmental issues."

Chow said without sufficient knowledge on the environment, decision-makers would not be aware of the seriousness of the matter, and this would jeopardise efforts to deal with the problem.

He also urged the state government to impose a ruling for all housing developers to set up a centralised sewerage system to ensure efficient management.

He said many of the sewerage systems in housing estates were decentralised and this did not augur well for the state capital.

For the benefit of wildlife, Chow hoped there would be a law to prevent plantation owners from encroaching on buffer zones at river banks, as this was vital for wildlife preservation.

"Buffer zones are important habitats for wildlife. Just let these areas be, and let wildlife have a place of their own to survive."

Malaysian Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar's wish for 2013 was for a quantum increase in funding and less red tape in government agencies.

He wanted more fields and opportunities to be opened up for the Indian community to allow every race to have a share in the country's economic pie.

"We need more co-existence in social, economic, education and employment policies for all the three major races.

"I believe this will greatly foster unity among the races."

Sivakumar hoped the government would carry on with its good work, adding that the year was rather promising as the government had remedied certain long-standing issues such as funding for small-and medium-sized industries.

Semarang assemblyman and state Umno information chief Datuk Samsol Bari Jamali hoped 2013 would be a better year for Malaysians.

"I also wish everything that the government has planned for the country will be implemented successfully and all of the country's ambitions will come to fruition.

"Lastly, I hope every Malaysian will have success in whatever they do," said Samsol.

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