Friday, September 03, 2010

Experience Nature in Urbanity

August 11, 2010

In today's world, where water is becoming an increasingly scarce and fluctuating resource, countries all over the world are facing an increasing challenge to develop sustainable solutions to ensure a constant flow of clean fresh water.

In recent years, Singapore has made its mark in the areas of water technology and water industry developments. It has taken on the challenge to create a city of gardens and water, where people want to live, work and play. With growing local and global emphasis on water and the water industry; not only does environment being preserved but at the same time alleviating humanity’s quality of life. To this end, PUB (Public Utilities Board) has embarked on the ambitious Active, beautiful, and Clean (ABC) Waters Programme.

PUB , as a national water agency, manages and ensures the sustainability of Singapore’s supply of fresh water. The Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme is a long term initiative to transform Singapore’s water bodies. It hopes to bring people closer to water so that they can better appreciate and his precious resource. Drains, canals, reservoirs will be transformed into beautiful and clean streams, rivers and lakes for drinking consumption, recreational purposes and water activities.

ABC Waters Programme is categorized according to water usage and conservation, water sports, water activities and water design in an urban environment and water treatment methods.

The NEWater Plant
NEWater is ultra-clean water that has been treated with advanced membrane technologies to a very high standard. It marks an achievement in Singapore’s efforts in becoming self-sufficient in its water supply. Its stringent purification and treatment processes help to ensure we enjoy a sustainable water supply as the recycled water can be reused many times over.

Launched seven years ago, NEWater, or recycled water, is a key pillar of Singapore’s water sustainability. It is produced by further purifying treated used water using advanced membrane and ultraviolet technologies.

With its ultra clean-clean quality, NEWater is sought after by the water fabrication, electronics and power generation industries for process use and is supplied mainly to the industries. Demand for NEWater has been growing steadily, with more than 360 customers served by five NEWater plants. This frees up potable water for domestic use.

Water Treatment Methods
Getting clean water is a vital part of the society’s operation. Water in Singapore is scarce and as such, all the rainwater that falls is viewed as important, so the drainage system is one important tool that helps collect water. Designing draining is not simply about collecting water. With proper consideration, the relative cleanliness of the collected water will greatly reduce the cost of purifying it down the line of producing portable water.

Once water gets to the reservoirs; storage, filtration and other processes need to be implemented to ensure the safety and cleanliness of water for the citizens. Besides rainwater, the island is also surrounded by another water resource – the sea. Techniques to extract from the sea also boost the supply of water. Ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and UV disinfection are the technologies employed for this purpose.

Meet our tour guide... =)

Play this video to get an initial idea of how NEWater came about:


Used Water Runs Deep

Managing used water is a part of the water cycle that is hardly seen and probably litt;e understood. But it is critical to do success of Singapore’s water management.

The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System collects used water discharged from homes and buildings. A separate network underground, it prevents used water from contaminating the rainwater collected for water supply.

Used water is treated at one of Singapore’s five water reclamation plants to internationally acceptable standards. It is then piped to NEWater plants where it undergoes a further three-stage purification process to produce NEWater while the excess is discharged into the sea.

Treated used water – water molecules with suspended solids, chemical contaminants, bacteria, virus

Stage 1: Ultrafiltration
Microfiltration - Microscopic particles including some bacteria are filtered out in this stage

-Suspended solids eliminated
-Chemical contaminants and some bacteria and virus remain with water molecules


Stage 2: Reverse Osmosis
Reverse Osmosis – Undesirable contaminants are removed here. The water after this stage is high-grade water.

- Filtered water molecules remain


Stage 3: UV Disinfection

Ultraviolet Disinfection - The water passes through ultraviolet light to ensure that any remaining organism id eradicated. Chemicals are then added to restore pH balance.

-The NEWater is now ready to use


A small amount of NEWater is blended with raw reservoir water, a strategy particularly useful during dry spells as it augments the low rainfall, before it is treated and supplied as tap water. Surpassing international drinking standards, NEWater is also bottled for public sampling. Its water quality and production processes are evaluated twice a year by an international audit panel.


Water is an essential resource that supports the natural environment that the human population depends on for food. A severe shortage of water will spell doom for the country's survival and cripple the growth of the economy. For a resource scarce country like Singapore, ensuring a constant supply of fresh water for industrial and domestic consumption is an enormous challenge. Apparently, it has surpassed this one. 

Working with better water technology and strategies to maintain clear water supply, Singapore has reduced its water consumption gradually over the years.
All over the world, population growth, coupled with urbanization and industrialization, has resulted in an increasing demand for water. Critical water issues such as the lack of clean drinking water and sanitation for the poor, environmental impacts on the aquatic ecosystems and the increased proportion of water for human use versus that for agricultural purposes – these causes are the water crises of the 21st century.

Yet, despite the magnitude of the water problems, the solutions are comparatively simple. As long as each of us does our part in using water wisely, we can protect and maintain our most precious resource on earth – water.


The launch of NEWater in 2003 has helped supplement local water supplies. With this alternative source of water and the expansion of water catchment areas, Singapore is well on its way to self-sufficiency.

Award-winning NEWater...
Since its launch in 2002, NEWater has passed more than 65,000 scientific tests and surpassed World Health Organization’s requirements. This innovative technology even won PUB the Stockholm Industry Water Award in 2007. In the next 50 years, Singapore can count on NEWater to meet half of its water demands.

30% of water demand met by NEWater by 2010
40% of water demand met by NEWater by 2020
50% of water demand met by NEWater by 2060

Marina Barrage

The OC

East Coast Park

Protect the environment, be water-efficient! (Checklist)
1.       Our drains, canals and rivers are not networks for the public to dispose unwanted materials such as cups, paper bags, cigarette butts and various other forms of waste.
2.       Monitor water bills.
3.       Take shorter showers and turn off tap while soaping.
4.       Wash vegetables and dishes in a filled sink instead of under a running tap.
5.       Run washing machine on a full load.
6.       Reuse rinse water from washing machine for flushing the toilet or mopping the floor.
7.       Use reduced flush for liquid waste.
8.       Use a pail instead of a hose when washing your car or watering the plants.
9.       Use a mug for rinsing when brushing your teeth.
10.   Check and repair leaks promptly.
11.   Install water saving devices such as thimbles.
12.   Use water efficient devices labelled with at least a one-tick rating.
13.   Pick up litter so it doesn’t get washed into the waterways.

NEWater's website

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