Water supplies ramped up as dry spell hits S’pore

Woo Sian Boon Today Online 5 Feb 14;

SINGAPORE — The dry spell in Singapore over the past few weeks has prompted national water agency PUB to ramp up the supply of NEWater and desalinated water to maintain water levels in the reservoirs.

For the past two weeks, 20 to 25 million gallons per day (mgd) of NEWater have been pumped into reservoirs to top up water levels, a PUB spokesperson said in response to TODAY’s queries.

Over the past 19 days, only 0.2mm of rainfall — which fell in Jurong on Sunday — was recorded across the island, the National Environment Agency said.

Skies were overcast yesterday afternoon, but no rain fell. Last month, only 75.4mm of rainfall and five “rain days” — defined as having a minimum rainfall of 0.2mm — were recorded at the Meteorological Services Singapore’s Changi climate station. In comparison, the long-term average rainfall for January is 242.4mm and there are, on average, 15 rain days in the month.

The NEA said the Republic is in the dry phase of the Northeast Monsoon season, which is characterised by generally windy conditions, cooler temperatures and drier weather. The phase set in earlier this year, and is expected to last till the end of this month or early next month, the NEA said.

For the next two weeks, “generally fair and occasionally windy conditions” can be expected on most days while some passing showers can be expected on a few days towards the end of next week, the NEA said. The rainfall for this month is expected to be below average, it added.

The NEA said Singapore last experienced similar dry periods between Jan 26 and Feb 10 in 2009, and between Feb 3 and 18 in 2011.

NEWater and desalinated water are two of Singapore’s four national water sources, meeting up to 30 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively, of the country’s water needs. The other sources are imported water and water from local catchment areas.

During dry months, the PUB works closely with the NEA to monitor weather conditions and the implications on reservoir levels, the PUB spokesperson said.

She noted that, as with previous years, water usage increased slightly — by about 10 to 15 mgd — two weeks before Chinese New Year due to activities such as the traditional spring cleaning. After the festivities, it returns to the usual level.

Nevertheless, the spokesperson called on the community and industries to “play their part to save and conserve our precious water resource”.

Meanwhile, due to dry weather conditions in the region, fires and hot spots were detected yesterday in central Sumatra, the NEA said.

A total of 108 hot spots with “a few isolated plumes” of smoke were visible over northern and central Sumatra, it added.

Nevertheless, the NEA said that Singapore is not likely to be affected by the smoke from the fires in Sumatra due to prevailing winds blowing from the north-east. It will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary, the agency added