Singapore Taps its Water

By Bharat Lal Seth

, by Down to earth

The Southeast Asian city-state strives to end its dependence on Malaysia for water

How does a city-state that has no natural water body, very little groundwater and even less land to store rainwater quench the thirst of its five million people? Singapore faces this question just as one of its 50-year water import agreement with Johor, now a part of Malaysia, expires in September. After all, the Malaysian import accounts for 40 per cent of Singapore’s total water supply.

The price of water is extremely low with Malaysia not having accounted for inflation in the past five decades. Cheapest among all sources, it stands at one Singapore cent per thousand litres. The city-state charges more than one dollar for the quantity from its people.

Its national water agency, Public Utility Board (PUB), is working overtime to meet its water demand on its own by 2060. It aims to reduce, and possibly eliminate, Singapore’s Malaysian dependence by strengthening its three methods to tap water—treat wastewater, desalinate seawater and maximise collection of rainwater.

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