Commentary

It’s drought, not floods, S’pore should fear

It’s drought, not floods, S’pore should fear
According to the experts, there are many innovative ways in which cities are starting to reduce consumption, and Singapore needs to look at new models. TODAY FILE PHOTO
Published: March 18, 3:58 AM
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Both are leading names in the world of water and resource management and have advised governments all over the planet.

Both are also firm admirers of the Singapore model — so much so, that they have spent the last few years researching and putting together the book, The Singapore Water Story, to be launched this Friday.

It analyses how and why a tiny island-nation, with hardly any resources, has pulled off something of a miracle in ensuring clean, abundant water for its residents, industries and landscape.

But as Singapore forges ahead with the aim of becoming self-sufficient in water by the time the remaining water agreements with Johor expire in 2061, Professor Asit Biswas and Dr Cecilia Tortajada are concerned about the challenges that lie ahead.

In conversation with TODAY, they talk about the key step Singapore needs to take now: Start talking about raising water tariffs.

TECH ISN’T EVERYTHING

“Assuming that there are 6.9 million people in Singapore come 2030, we will need significantly more water not just for drinking and washing, but also economic activities. The question, then, is where does it come from?

At present, more than 50 per cent of the water supply comes from Johor. By 2061, the Government has said, the country can be self-reliant on water if need be. It has been expanding the water catchment area but there is a limit — hence the emphasis has been on reusing water (NEWater) and desalination. The problem is that both processes are extremely energy intensive, and so, future energy costs will be a major consideration for the water sector.

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